Squatters Rights in British Columbia

You find out that you are the Executor of the Estate of your Uncle John who lived in British Columbia.  Uncle John owned a vacant parcel of land in the interior.  Unfortunately, when you get to the property to inspect it, you discover that squatters are living on the property. The squatters say that they have been on the property since 1995. You want to know the Estate’s rights to the land and whether the squatters have any rights.

The law relating to squatter’s rights is titled “adverse possession”.  Squatter’s rights allows an individual to gain possession of land that is not actually owned by that individual.

In some provinces, squatters can acquire rights if they can show that they continuously used the land for a prescribed period (as may be set out in provincial legislation), that the squatters used the land in a way that is contrary to the true land owners intended use of the land, and that the true land owner was dispossessed of the land.

The good news for the Estate is that in British Columbia it is no longer possible to acquire land through adverse possession by virtue of section 28 of the British Columbia Limitations Act (unless the right to that land by adverse possession existed before July 1, 1975).

In other words unless the squatters could establish that they were in adverse possession before July 1, 1975, they have no rights to the Estate property.

Here, the squatters were in possession only since 1995 so they have no rights to the property.

If you need legal advice on this subject or any other law related inquiry please contact us.