Adverse Possession Disputes

Adverse possession disputes

A person who has had open and obvious possession of a property for at least 12 consecutive years may have a right to claim title to the property.

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Squatter’s rights

A person who has had open and obvious possession of a property for a number of consecutive years may have a right to claim title to the property. In Queensland the minimum number of years is 12.

This is called adverse possession, or colloquially, “squatter’s rights”.

They will receive the property’s title even though they have not paid the registered owner any money for it. 

If you want to make an adverse possession claim, or have had a claim made against your property, Gibbs Wright can help.

We deal with adverse possession claims across Queensland. We have experienced property lawyers who can deal with your dispute promptly and tailor a solution to your unique circumstances.

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What our clients say

…turned our crazy situation into positive new beginnings… We would highly recommend their services to anyone who is in need of professional property lawyers who have your best interests at heart. Thank you Mitchell and Melany!

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During the first phone call with Spencer I knew immediately that I was in competent hands. Spencer and his troops moved into position akin to military action… I would strongly recommend contacting Gibbs Wright Litigation Lawyers…

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Property Lawyers

How does adverse possession work?

Adverse possession law deals with land that has been overlooked because the owner has, for example, been dead or absent for a long time.

It involves obligations for an owner to use, maintain and defend land, and if these obligations are not met, the owner loses their right to the land.

Adverse possession claims are very rare.

The factual circumstances of adverse possession claims, particularly the many years of uninterrupted possession required without the consent of the registered owner makes claims few and far between.

This is especially the case now that technology has modernised searches, property ownership and the administration of estates.

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What to expect

How do I make a claim for adverse possession?

To make a successful claim for adverse possession of land, generally the criteria that must be met are that the claimant:

  • had exclusive, actual, continuous and uninterrupted possession of the land, without the owner’s consent, for a period of years;
  • had possession that was open, obvious and intended, so that another person would assume the claimant owned it; and
  • took possession peacefully (without force or violence).

In Queensland, a claim is made to Titles Queensland, and may only be made after 12 years.


Evidence that must be presented to prove adverse possession includes:

  • names and addresses of neighbours to the land so they can be notified of the claim; and
  • title documents for the land that are held by the claimant.
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Your rights

How do I defend a claim for adverse possession?

The burden of proof is on the claimant to demonstrate that they have adverse possession of the land (on the balance of probabilities).

The registered land owner may lodge a caveat over the land and present evidence to disprove the claim.

This could include evidence of entry to the land, removing structures on the land (such as a fence or building), and/or ordering the claimant to leave the land, during the claimed period of possession.

The strongest evidence a registered owner could produce is written acknowledgement that the claimant is occupying the land under an agreement.

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Your team

Melany Dowse


Rebekka Hallberg

Mitchell Caldwell

Litigation solicitor

Mitchell Caldwell

Special CounSEL

Melany Dowse

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Why us

Why choose Gibbs Wright Litigation Lawyers

Few law firms specialise in litigation, and fewer still have the skill and understanding needed to litigate adverse possession disputes.

At Gibbs Wright, we practise exclusively in litigation and dispute resolution, and we want our clients to feel confident that they will receive unparalleled service and dedication.

Our firm represents plaintiffs and defendants in a wide range of litigation and dispute matters no case is too small, too big or too complex for our lawyers to take up the fight. Each and every client receives the same level of attention and dedication, whether they are an individual or one of the nation’s biggest companies.

When it comes to adverse possession matters, look to Gibbs Wright’s experience to help take the stress, emotion and cost out of your dispute.

  • Commercially viable outcomes
  • Dedicated litigation firm
  • Outstanding client satisfaction
  • High success rate
  • Direct contact with your lawyer
  • Brisbane-based litigation team
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Frequently Asked Questions

Will I need to go to court for my adverse possession dispute?

Court proceedings can be costly, time consuming and stressful, so our lawyers at Gibbs Wright will always attempt to negotiate a resolution before recommending your matter be litigated in a court.

What is the Gibbs Wright process?

At Gibbs Wright, we work closely with you to determine the best plan for your particular circumstances, considering your finances and your expectations.

We will walk you through the steps of the journey, which begins with a free initial discussion to assess the strength of your case and your legal options.

We will request key documents such as a title deed or emails to assess this. If we determine we can help you, we can provide an estimate of fees, depending on the expected cost and complexity of the matter. If you agree with our proposed strategy, we will vigorously pursue or defend an adverse possession claim on your behalf.

Where can we help you?

We are well versed in property and adverse possession legislation for Queensland and we have an office conveniently located in Brisbane. So, if you’re looking for experienced adverse possession lawyers to help you defend or make a claim of adverse possession, you can call us today for a no obligation consultation.

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Who and where we can help

We can offer strategic advice on the fastest and most cost-effective way to solve your adverse possession dispute. Our role can include negotiating on your behalf and/or representing you in court.

We have extensive experience in property law matters in Queensland, with an office conveniently located in Brisbane.

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