What are Squatter rights and how does it work in New Zealand?

This week you might read in the news about squatter rights.

Squatter rights basically allows you to get title (own the land) without buying it from the previous owner. Instead as set out in the Land Transfer Amendment Act 1963: If somebody possesses another person’s land continuously for a minimum of 20 years without objection from the legal owner, the squatter can apply to Linz for ownership, few questions asked. If nobody responds to the Linz notices by formally placing a caveat on title, Linz transfers title to the applicant/squatter.


This may seem unfair and it is. But the law was written at a time when New Zealand was mainly a farming and agricultural economy and the Govt did not want abandoned and productive land to be lying around. So any one who occupied a property for 20 years straight can apply to have the ownership transferred to them. If no-one objects (if the actual owner can’t be found), then the Govt will transfer the ownership to the occupant.

This is very important for people who landbank. If you land bank and have trespasser and unwanted people occupying your land, they can claim for the title as abandoned property after 20 years. If you fear your land is occupied by another, you may need a lawyer to get them off.

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