Abolishment of the Law of Adverse Possession in Alberta

The Property Rights Statues Amendment Act, 2022 (“the Act”) has introduced key updates to the Law of Property Act, the Land Titles Act and the Limitations Act. The Act has amended these key legislations to abolish the previously upheld common law right of adverse possession.

Prior to this amendment, the common law of adverse possession allowed those that were not the registered owners of a piece of land to eventually take ownership after occupying the property for at least 10 years. Adverse possession claims could also only be made against private landowners, exempting public land, municipal land, and irrigation districts. In this, private landowners bore the burden of potentially losing their land and took measures to ensure that their land was monitored and protected.

The Act has now eliminated claims of adverse possession, or squatter’s rights, in Alberta. It provides private landlords with the same protections afforded to government land. This amendment to Alberta’s property law follows the example of other Canadian provinces. Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, and the Yukon each operate a land title system similar to Alberta’s and have abolished adverse possession law. It has also been removed from British Columbia, Ontario, and Manitoba’s property law systems.[1]

Practitioners should remain aware of this key amendment within property law, as it will impact future property land claims. For more information on this amendment, read the complete Act here.

[1] “Property Rights Statues Amendment Act, 2022,” online: Government of Alberta, 19 December 2022, [https://www.alberta.ca/assets/documents/jus-property-rights-statutes-amendment-act-2022-info-sheet.pdf].

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