Adverse possession allows a person who has occupied another’s land for at least 10 years to potentially claim ownership of that land. The occupation must be exclusive, open, notorious and continuous. Adverse possession is commonly, but mistakenly, referred to as squatter’s rights.
ALRI is recommending that the law of adverse possession be abolished in Alberta. This change would prevent new claims from being brought in the future, but would not affect claims that have been resolved or filed with the court before the change comes into effect.
This change would mean that a registered owner of land could recover possession at any time and would not have to act within the 10-year limitation period that currently applies.
If adverse possession is abolished, claims regarding lasting improvements to the wrong land under section 69 of the Law of Property Act would have a more prominent role in resolving disputes concerning possession of land. To facilitate equitable resolution of disputes, ALRI recommends that an assign of the lasting improvement should not have to prove whether the person who made the improvement believed it was their land. This change would make section 69 consistent with how courts have applied it. ALRI also recommends that section 69 claims can be brought at any time.