In the recent case of McFarland v Gertos [2018] NSWSC 1629, the NSW Supreme Court awarded the title of a $1.6 million home to a property developer who took possession of the vacant house in 1998. Mr Gertos was found to be entitled to the home under the law of adverse possession, which allows for the extinguishment of ‘documentary’ title where a person has actual possession of a property, an intention to possess the property and continuously possesses the property for the limitation period of 12 years.

In this case, the property had been abandoned since 1948 when the registered owner died, and his family were unaware of their rights until 2017. In the meantime, Gertos had performed renovations and leased the property throughout the 20 year period since he discovered the house, before applying to the Registrar-General for title. This was sufficient evidence for the court to hold that Gertos had the right to possessory title of the property.

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