All property title must start somewhere, but where? What is the starting point? Last year? 20 years ago? 50 years ago? The last century?
In Ireland if a vendor can show a deed which has certain characteristics it will be accepted by conveyancers, legal professionals, and the Property Registration Authority as a good root of title.
A good root of title, therefore, for unregistered (Registry of Deeds) properties has certain characteristics:
- It must be a document or instrument of disposition
- It must deal with the whole ownership of the whole legal and equitable estate in the property
- It must not need any extrinsic evidence
- It must contain a description of the property
- It must be at least 15 years old
- It must not show anything which would cast doubt on the title of the disposing party
A good root of title for a registered (Land Registry) property is the PRA folio.
The root of title for a leasehold property is the lease itself, regardless of age.
Once a good root of title is established all subsequent deeds transfer ownership of that same title.
Regarding the age of title it used to be a requirement that the root of title be at least 20 years old.
Section 56 of the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2009 provides that:
56.— (1) Subject to subsections (2) and (3), after the commencement of this Chapter, a period of at least 15 years commencing with a good root of title is the period for proof of title which the purchaser may require.
Thus, 15 years is the minimum age of a root of title now.
The most common good roots of title in daily conveyancing practice in Ireland are:
- A conveyance or lease for value
- A sealed and certified copy Land Registry folio with title Absolute
Bad roots of title include:
- A voluntary conveyance
- A general devise in a will
- A deed of appointment of trustees
- Possessory title in the Land Registry
- A deed of assignment
The lists above are not exhaustive, merely examples.
If you are a purchaser you will not need to worry about what is a good root of title or not, as your solicitor will do that as part of the conveyancing process and the review of title documents furnished with the contract.