Couple Wins 'Squatters' Rights' to Neighbor's Yard

Elderly couple has been tending the yard for 12 years
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted May 27, 2016 8:11 AM CDT
Couple Wins 'Squatters' Rights' to Neighbor's Yard
And the verdict goes to ... the elderly couple who's been taking of the yard for 12 years.   (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills, File)

They say fences make good neighbors, but that definitely wasn't true for Hilary and Edward Kirkby. The British couple, who are 72 and 70, respectively, have spent the past 12 years tending to a stretch of yard in front of their Yorkshire home, which they bought in 1999. That work included tearing down the bushes that once filled it, building two parking spots, erecting a low fence, sowing grass—reportedly carting in tons of topsoil in order to do so—and planting flowers, reports the Mirror. Marcus Heaney's home sits across the alley, and the Kirkbys have been battling it out in court with him since Heaney registered the strip of land as his own in 2012, dismantled the fence, and ordered his neighbors to "make no further use of it, whether for parking or otherwise," reports AOL Money.

The Kirkbys responded with their own paperwork claiming rights to the land, and the courts have on several occasions ruled in favor of the Kirkbys. This latest—and final—win in the Court of Appeal leaves Heaney with nothing but a $370,000 legal bill, reports the Telegraph. "It would be a sad day for the law if the courts were to attach too much legal significance to acts which pass for nothing between good neighbors," Heaney's attorney said in a sort of warning. "Adjoining owners would have to be constantly on the watch in case their rights were being infringed." AOL notes that Brits who can demonstrate they've occupied unregistered land for a period of 12 years can make an ownership claim. (See why this squatter filed a restraining order.)

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