Property boundaries and the law in Ireland-what you need to know

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Disputes often arise about the boundaries of property in Ireland. These disputes can be bitter and long lasting.

Both parties will closely scrutinise the maps or plans which attach to their title documents. These maps may be attached to old deeds or may be the more modern plan which is attached to the Land Registry folio maintained by the Property Registration Authority.

What is the legal position regarding boundaries of your property? What happens when there is a variance between the physical boundary on the ground and the boundary as shown on the Property Registration Authority Sealed and Certified folio and filed plan?

The good news is that the ownership of your Land Registry property is guaranteed by the State. The bad news is the boundary set out on your Land Registry folio filed plan is ‘non-conclusive’.

Ordnance Survey and the Property Registration Authority

The Property Registration Authority (Land Registry) work closely with Ordnance Survey Ireland (OSI) and uses OSI maps to cross reference and create digital maps.

OSI maps, however, never indicate legal property boundaries nor ownership of physical features of the land. OSI maps only represent the physical features of the land on the ground because OSI mapping is a topographic exercise.

Property Registration Authority (PRA)

The PRA controls the Registry of Deeds and Land Registry and property ownership is registered with Land Registry. The details of ownership and relevant particulars as to the property are registered on folios.

Along with the folios the Land Registry maintains Land Registry maps. The boundary of the property is taken from the map lodged by the applicant for registration purposes.

The physical boundary and non-conclusive boundary system

The Land Registry does not identify boundaries, only properties, and never shows ownership of individual walls or fences.

The boundary system adopted by the Land Registry is a non-conclusive boundary system. This means that ownership of the physical structures which mark a boundary is unidentified.

Moreover, the exact location of title boundaries is undetermined.

This non conclusive boundary system means that a hedge or wall or ditch which might form part of a boundary is not indicated in a Land Registry title boundary. The map supplied by the applicant, provided it complies with the requirements of Land Registry, will be accepted to accurately define the boundary, which is considered to be a Land Registry approved map.

Section 85 (description of registered land) of the Act of 1964 as substituted by section 62 of the Act of 2006.

“85.—(1) Registered land shall be described and identified by reference to the registry maps concerned in such manner as may be prescribed.

(2) Except as provided by this Act, neither the description of land in a register nor its identification by reference to a registry map is conclusive as to its boundaries or extent.”

Disputes

Disputes can arise when the physical boundary of a property on the ground does not correspond with the boundary line marked on the plan attached to the PRA folio. One of the solutions to this type of dispute is for the parties to agree the boundary and enter into a deed of rectification between the two property owners.

This may not be necessary, however, and it will depend on the extent of the deviation, how many properties and property owners may be affected, and the particular circumstances.

Learn more about mapping practice in Land Registry here.

Here is Land Registry’s mapping guidelines. https://www.prai.ie/mapping-guidelines/