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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Mc Allister

Understanding Property Boundaries in Ireland: Mapping and Ownership


Property boundaries and their registration often raise questions and, in some cases, misconceptions. As we navigate the intricate world of property registration, it's vital to grasp the finer details. Let's shed light on the interplay between mapping, ownership, and the legal aspects that govern property boundaries in Ireland.


The Middle of the Roadway Conundrum

One common query is whether a registered property owner holds ownership rights extending to the middle of the public road abutting their property. This question stems from the appearance of property boundaries on Land Registry maps, which can sometimes extend to the roadway. However, these visual representations can be misleading.


The answer to this conundrum can be found in Section 85 of the Registration of Title Act, 1964, amended by Section 62 of the Registration of Deeds and Title Act 2006. This section clearly states that neither the description of a property in a register nor its identification by reference to a Registry map is conclusive as to boundaries or extent. In essence, while Land Registry maps serve to identify properties, they don't conclusively define property boundaries.


This fundamental rule is known as the 'General Boundaries Rule.' It asserts that property ownership generally extends only as far as the property's physical boundaries, like fences, gates, or hedgerows, unless the property owner can provide evidence to the contrary.


Practical Implications and Legal Considerations

What does this mean in practical terms? The implications of the General Boundaries Rule become particularly relevant when it comes to issues of liability, damage, and public access.


In cases where a local authority has taken charge of the roads and services, ownership rights don't automatically transfer to the authority. However, statutory restrictions are imposed to prevent interference with public access.


The situation becomes more complex when dealing with private rural lanes that remain outside the scope of local authority control. Property owners who believe their folios indicate ownership extending to the middle of the adjacent road may be tempted to hinder access. However, such actions can lead to legal disputes, especially when other property owners claim a right of way by virtue of long-term use.


The State Guarantee and the General Boundaries Rule serve to clarify that the appearance of ownership on maps shouldn't be misconstrued as conclusive evidence of title, nor should it be used as a basis to obstruct roads and paths used in common with others.


In conclusion, understanding the nuances of property boundaries and their mapping is essential for property owners in Ireland. While Land Registry maps offer valuable information, they are not the sole determinants of ownership. It's crucial to consider the legal aspects and potential disputes related to property boundaries, ensuring a harmonious coexistence with neighbors and a clear understanding of your property rights.

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