Moorings and Squatters Rights

Is it possible to obtain the legal title to the part of a river bed on which a boat has been moored for more than 12 years?

Not on the facts, according to the Upper Tribunal (Tax and Chancery) although it was clear that similar cases could theoretically succeed on the facts.

In the case before the Tribunal, Mr Mendonza has moored his houseboat for a period in excess of 12 years. When the owner of the river bed attempted to register the river bed, Mr Mendonza objected and claimed that he was entitled to the area of the river bed beneath his houseboat by reason of adverse possession.

The Tribunal did accept that Mr Mendonza's boat had been moored in the same place as a matter of fact for the requisite period. However, he had not proved the necessary intention to possess.

Whilst there was a clear intention to possess in the latter years of mooring, there was insufficient evidence before the Tribunal that he had intended to possess to the exclusion of all others in the earlier years of mooring.

Whilst it formed no part of the Tribunal's decision, it was suggested by Counsel for the owner of the river bed that putting up signs saying "private land and mooring" or erecting ancillary structures such as river bed supports may have provided evidence of intention to exclusively possess but no such actions had been taken in the present case.

For more information on obtaining legal title by adverse possession and related property law matters contact partner and property law specialist, Gillian Jones.


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