Last December 15, 2022, the Property Rights Statutes Amendment Act took effect. Prior to this Act, a person who has been adversely occupying private owned lands has the potential to go to Court and claim ownership. Only public land, municipal land and irrigation were protected.
The new Act abolishes the ability of adverse possessors to make a claim over private lands. Adverse possession, otherwise known as ‘squatter’s rights’, allows a person who has occupied another person’s land for at least 10 years to go to Court and make a claim of ownership.
Squatter’s rights have brought enormous worry and stress to landowners in Alberta with the need to always monitor and keep people from taking possession of their property in order not to lose them.
For over a decade, advocates and past governments have called for the abolition of adverse possession. In an April 2020 report, it was reported that there were only nine cases in the last eight years up to 2020 but there was a belief that there may be other adverse possession cases that were not listed nor made public. An MLA Select Special Committee on Real Property did a rigorous consultation with the public that resulted to the proposition to abolish adverse possession. In 2017, the Alberta Law Reform Institute reviewed the adverse possession law and in 2020 has made recommendations to stop the ‘squatter’s rights’.
With the new Act, Alberta’s registered owners can now heave a sigh of relief, use and enjoy their property without the worry of any ‘squatter’s rights’ overtaking their property.