If you own a property in Ireland you may not own every “right” that is connected to it. You might need to access it by crossing over land in the ownership of someone else. There may be a need to access a right to drainage or other services that run over someone else’s land (known as an easement). There may be a right to access another property for the purposes of repair or maintenance.
A right of way can be acquired in a number of ways. A land-owner may agree to formally grant the right of way by signing a document with you, confirming that they are happy for you to cross over their land. They may do this for free or you might have to negotiate a fee with them.
In some cases, however, there is no documentary evidence to the right in question. Very often it has been established over a period of time and regular use. These are known as rights by prescription.
There are also “profits a prendre” which are rights to enter onto someone else’s land and take natural material such as turf. These rights also include the right to graze animals or hunt on the land.
The Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2009 deals with these rights and easements and provides that you can now register them if you have been using them for a specific period of time.
In order to register an easement or profit a prendre, you must have been using it for 12 years as of right and without interruption. “As of right” in this situation means “without force, secrecy or without oral or written consent.”
If the land over which the easement or profit a prendre is claimed is owned by the State then the time limits are different. In those cases, you must have used the right for a minimum period of 30 years and if the land is foreshore then the period is 60 years.
An application can be made to the Property Registration Authority to register these rights and the deadline for making this application is 30th November 2021. For that reason, it is important to review the use of your property if you do need to use any rights of way or other easements. A successful application will ensure that the use of your right of way is given legal footing and will form part of the title documents to the property in the future.
You can’t make an application to the PRAI if there is any dispute or argument over the use of the right of way. In those cases, a court application will be required.
If you think you might need to make an application like this for a right of way that you use, then you need to address it now so that you meet the deadline of November 30th.
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