Adverse possession does not transfer title

The effects of adverse possession are to prevent the bringing of possession proceedings and to extinguish the title of the formal owner previously entitled to possession. Adverse possession does not transfer the title of the ‘paper’ owner to the squatter.

In Tichborne v Weir ([1891 – 94] All Er Rep 449, CA (Eng)) D granted a lease to B. The lease contained a covenant requiring the tenant to keep the property in repair. B granted an equitable mortgage of the lease to G. When B disappeared, G went into possession and paid rent to the landlord. After 40 years, G conveyed his title to the defendant. The defendant went into possession and also paid the rent. When the lease ended, the landlord sought to require the defendant to perform the lease covenant to keep the property in repair. The English Court of Appeal held that the defendant was not subject to the covenant. G’s title, transferred to the defendant, was based on his 40 years of adverse possession. Adverse possession does not work by transferring the relevant paper title (here the lease) to the squatter.

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