WILLIAMS… let’s call it what it is, stealing land. To squat is to steal land.
ATTORNEY-AT-LAW Alexander Williams, in calling for a review of adverse possession law, says the principle inadvertently legalizes squatting and trespassing.
Williams, who said Friday that the issue is one that should be “definitely settled in the Caribbean,” in another interview with the Jamaica Observer said it was among several “other areas of law where the usual English common law jurisprudence that we apply here might not necessarily suit our Caribbean reality” and as such should be modified.
Adverse possession allows a person who has been in possession of land for at least 12 years without dispute to obtain title to it if the owner of the paper fails to assert his own superior title within the statute of limitations under the limitation of shares. This Act prohibits the paper owner from repossessing land after the expiration of 12 years in the case of a private citizen and 60 years in the case of land owned by the Crown. The applicant must prove, among other things, that deeds have been performed in relation to the property such as fencing or maintenance. It must also be proven that for the relevant period no request was made for the individual to vacate the property and that the tenancy was undisputed.
Williams, who has made it clear that his views are personal and not those of the Jamaica Bar Association, which he heads, said the law as it stands permits violation by well-meaning citizens.
“I’m pretty sure every family has members who have gone overseas to earn a living and who would most likely buy property and deposit it with the intention of returning to live on the property or to develop the property. is a quintessential aspect of Jamaican culture. Adverse possession law does not fit that part of our culture,” said Williams, a former Jamaican Labor Party senator.
“Let’s say you go away for 24 years, you struggle as a bus driver in the UK or as a farm laborer in the US, you buy land in Jamaica and someone comes and sits on your land for 12 years, you don’t know, and you lose the ground. Is that something we should accept in our own Jamaican jurisprudence as an acceptable way to order ourselves?” Williams wondered.
He further argued that the law also unfairly allows disreputable characters who have an entrepreneurial bent.
“Land in countries like Jamaica is expensive for a particular reason. Where we are in the Caribbean, compared to many other places in the world, we are in a fairly stable environment. Do we want to subject our development , given that leverage to the principle of adversarial possession, when people who may or may not develop land in a particularly appropriate way to be able to do what is, in effect, stealing land is stealing land Squatting is stealing land,” the lawyer explained.
“So someone who is squatting land, who hasn’t paid for it, and who hasn’t inherited it, hopes that for a while a landowner won’t pay enough attention to the land and take it. C “is what the law allows. . I raise this in the context of our own case law. We may well be able to modify the case law on the principles of adverse possession to suit our Caribbean reality” , Williams noted.
Property owners can protect themselves against adverse possession by, among other things, placing “No Trespassing” signs on the property, ensuring periodic surveys are carried out, in addition to routine inspections to ensure that there are no unauthorized occupants.