Evicted couple whose family have farmed on land for 300 years refuse to leave

David and Karen Yates have been told they must be gone in little over a week but they have told Bolton council they are claiming squatters’ right and have vowed to ignore the eviction

David Yates and his wife Karen say they are within their rights to remain

A soon-to-be evicted couple whose family have farmed on land for 300 years say they have squatters’ rights and are refusing to leave.

Determined David Yates, 65 and his wife Karen, 54, have been handed legal notice from Bolton council to vacate the 11-acre farm within days.

They must leave the plot in Harwood, Greater Manchester, for next week – but are refusing to go, the Manchester Evening News reports.

They say they will defy an eviction order issued by their landlord saying they’ve got to be gone by April 30.

The couple, who run an 84-animal cattery from the farm, took over the tenancy of the farm in 1995 following the death of David’s father William Yates.

Instead, they are proceeding with an “adverse possession order” which they believe entitles them to take ownership of the property because they have been on the land for more than 12 years.

They have been told to leave the plot in Harwood, Greater Manchester, by next weekend


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Adverse possession – also known as squatters’ rights – is based on an ancient philosophy requiring owners of land to actually make productive use of it.

After taking legal advice, David and Karen say they were advised that because they had been occupying the land for more than 12 years without paying any rent, they qualified to take “adverse possession” of the land and made application to Her Majesty’s Land Registry.

After being informed of the application, the council wrote to the couple saying it intended to “strenuously defend” the application.

The council’s legal advisers state: “Regardless of the progress of the adverse possession application with HMLR, the council requires vacant possession of the entire holding. You are required to vacate the holding on or before April 30, 2022.”

David said that they were promised a new contract when the nearby St Catherine’s Academy school was completed about 15 years ago.

“But we haven’t paid a penny in rent since 2007, because we never heard from Bolton council until 2016,” he said.

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“As soon as we put our adverse possession application in they suddenly got interested, but we think we have a very sound legal case to claim the land because we have been putting it to effective use.”

And he added: “My family have been here for 300 years, I’m not leaving now.”

The pair established the cattery as well as an innovative manufacturing hub for making barley straw which kills green algae.

The couple have also created a facility for Men In Sheds – the men’s mental health charity.

A spokesperson for Bolton council said: “We are unable to comment due to ongoing legal proceedings.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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