Fisheries and Land Resources

Squatter's Rights

If you and your predecessors have been in uninterrupted possession of Crown land without benefit of title for 20 years or more prior to January 1, 1977, you may be eligible for a Crown Grant under Section 36 of the Lands Act c.36, Statutes of Newfoundland and Labrador,1991, as amended, at a nominal cost. To obtain a Crown grant, you must file an Application for Grant of Land (Squatter's Rights) PDF (284 KB) as explained below.

How to Apply for a "Squatters' Rights" Grant

Completing The Application

  1. Carefully read the entire application and ensure that all parts are fully completed in detail. Please give your full name, complete mailing address, and the telephone number(s), email address or facsimile number where you can be reached at most times.
  2. In the spaces provided, state the location of the land, the electoral district, and the distance and direction from the nearest community if necessary. You must give enough information about boundaries so the land can be easily recognized. Also, provide the directions and distances of the boundaries, and who occupies the land around the property.
  3. If possible, include a copy of Departmental mapping indicating the location and dimensions of the property, and identify the location of any structures that may be situated on the property. If a copy of Departmental mapping is not readily available, include a rough sketch of the land indicating the distance and direction from prominent landmarks (eg. church, school, prominent intersection), and the direction of nearby communities.
  4. When you sign your application, it must be witnessed by an official authorized to administer an oath.
  5. An application fee must also be included with your application.

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Affidavit of Applicant

  1. Before you submit your application, it is critical that you have completed the affidavit section in detail.
  2. Read pages 1 and 2 of the application thoroughly. When you understand it, complete the affidavit and then have the affidavit administered by a person authorized to administer oaths. If you do not know a person authorized to administer an oath, contact the nearest Regional Lands Office for assistance.
  3. When completing the Affidavit of Applicant, include all information you know about your own use and occupation of the land and any former occupation by previous owners or successive occupants. List all the improvements and acts of possession (eg. new fences constructed, cultivation, etc.) that have been made to the land over the years. You may have to contact the former occupants, if possible, to gather the necessary information. This is important because the application may be rejected if there is not enough information or if the form is not correctly completed. The lack of information would also delay the processing of the application on your behalf.
  4. Documentation is necessary to provide proof of how the land was acquired. You must include properly notarized deeds of conveyance, mortgages, bills of sale, deeds of gift, wills or any land related documents. For example, a tax certificate may be considered as acceptable supporting documentation. Information on properly notarized deeds may be obtained from the Registry of Deeds. Applicants who are unable to provide the necessary documentation should seek legal advice in order to obtain the proper documents.
  5. Remember: If you are granted title to land based upon false or misleading information, you run the risk of having the grant cancelled at any time in the future and may face prosecution for signing a fraudulent affidavit.

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Affidavit In Support of Application

  • The Affidavit In Support of Application is used to support your claim to the parcel of land applied for; it is not to be completed by a member of your family. It should be made by any person who is thoroughly familiar with the land over a long period of time. It is important that the person making the affidavit follow the same directions as those followed by the applicant when he/she completed their affidavit. The form should be fully understood before it is signed and it must be witnessed by a person authorized to administer an oath.

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The Application Process

  • When the application is completed in detail, it must be forwarded to the appropriate Regional Lands Office with the application fee for processing.
  • After the application has been accepted and registered, a Departmental official will later contact you and arrange for a convenient time to visit and inspect the land. This is necessary in order to determine your claim to the land.
  • If your application is approved, a written approval to survey will be issued, giving you 12 months to have the land surveyed by a registered member of the Association of Newfoundland Land Surveyors opens new window. The cost of the survey is your responsibility and is only to include the land that was approved. A survey should not to be carried out until you have received approval and your surveyor has received a Survey Authorization from the Regional Office.
  • Important: Boundary disputes can cause lengthy delay in issuing your title. Try to get occupants of all adjoining land to agree with you on the boundaries before the survey is carried out and have them confirm the boundaries at the time of the survey. If boundary disputes can not be resolved, a Crown grant can not be issued.
  • Upon completion and acceptance of the survey, two (2) copies of the title document are prepared and sent to you for signature. Both documents must be signed and returned to the Department within the specified 90 days, and accompanied by the grant and document preparation fees.
  • The title documents will then be signed by the Minister, with one being copy placed in the Crown Lands Registry for permanent storage and the other copy being returned to you for your records.
  • Failure to submit your survey, signed documents and monies owing within their specified time periods will result in the cancellation of your application, in accordance with Section 10 of the Lands Act c36, Statutes of Newfoundland and Labrador 1991, as amended.

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Fees

  • Application Processing Fee: $150.00 + HST
  • Document Preparation Fee: $300.00
  • Grant Consideration: $500.00

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Definitions

The following are a number of terms, which, because they are points of law, may be difficult to understand. If you do not understand them after careful reading, it is important that you talk to someone who can explain them to you; such as a lawyer.

  • Open, Notorious, Exclusive and Continuous Possession: "Open and notorious means actual, visible and obvious - "so open and notorious as to give the true owner notice of circumstances such that the owner could not be presumed to be ignorant of the possession." "Exclusive" means possession by the possessor to the exclusion of the owner and all other persons without interruption or dispute. "Continuous" means constant throughout the period, without interruption.
  • Successive Occupants: A possessor has a transferable interest in the property good against all the world except the rightful owner, and their successor has as good a right to the possession as if they had occupied for the whole period. It is sufficient if the possession is held by different occupants holding in succession to each other if the possession is actual and continuous, and passing from one to the successor. But if there occurs a vacancy between any of the successive occupants, the title reverts back to the true owner at such break.
  • Acts of Possession: Examples of such acts which may be sufficient to establish a claim are: constructing buildings, living on or occupying the land, fencing, clearing, cultivating, and the grazing of animals. Some actual use and occupation of the fenced portion must be shown, such as the pasturing of cattle.

Please Note: This information is purely intended for the general guidance of applicants. It is not a legal interpretation, nor does it bind the Crown.

If you have any further questions concerning Crown land or related matters, please contact the nearest Regional Lands Office.

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