A Possessory Title application is an action to ask the Court to say that someone who has been in occupation of land, without title documents, is the owner of the land.
Someone who makes an application for a possessory title order must satisfy the Court that:
- He was in possession of the land for a period of at least 12 years;
- His 12-year claim is not against Government;
- His 12-year possession must be continuous. He will not qualify if it is based on possession between 1965 to 1975 and then again, from 2015 to 2019, unless during the time he was out of possession, he had someone caretaking it on his behalf;
- The possession must be adverse to the interest of anyone else who could have a claim, meaning that he must have acted as the only owner of the land, without regarding anyone else as the owner or a part owner;
- He did not enter into and remain in possession of the land with someone’s permission or agreement. Therefore ordinarily, someone who rented land cannot successfully claim; likewise, someone who received permission to put a house on a spot or to work land cannot successfully claim;
- His actions as owner must be “overt”. This means that he cannot claim to have been in possession but no one could observe. He must have undertaken acts such as: kept the land clear of bush on a regular basis; planted crops; tethered animals; built a house or other structure; collected rent or such other licence fee from anyone else who might have used it; or entered into a written arrangement with anyone who might have used the land, where the written arrangement said he is the owner.
- Payment of taxes, while possibly indicative of someone who lays claim as an owner, does not qualify as an “overt” action. Payment of taxes is simply a matter of revenue collection by Government and does not serve to tell the public that you are in possession of the land. In fact, chances are, in its exuberance to collect revenue, Government might also be collecting taxes from someone else for the same piece of land, for as long as you have been paying;
- There are independent persons who are willing to come to Court to support his application and attest that he has been in possession of that land, and that the nature of the possession qualifies as continuous, overt, and adverse to the rights of anyone else, as explained above;
- No one else claims to be the owner of the land or any interest in the land; and
- Anyone else who might have had a claim to the land will be statute-barred from successfully bringing such a claim.
Grenada Bar Association