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Land grab by property developer - no map in title deeds

  • 13-09-2022 11:42pm
    Registered Users Posts: 366 ✭✭

    Where there is no map in extensive title deeds to an unregistered property but the various deeds give front-to-rere and breadth measurements, is this, in effect, as good as a map? When it comes to registering the property with the Land Registry, will a map that has been compiled based on the deeds be acceptable?

    Another party is making claim to a section of my rear garden by way of possession. (I suspect they haven't been able to register it with the Land Registry and my solicitor tells me they will need to prove ownership to do so). I have been advised by my solicitor that this part of my property may also be held by me by way of possession and we should get some external mapping (legal?) advice. The part in dispute is within the front-to-rere measurements defined in my deeds. The OSI mapping shows the site as I would like (in my favour) but I understand this isn't going to assist me in defining the legal boundary.

    I want to make sure that whoever we instruct is the best person to get an absolute title. What am I looking for? What type of person? What is he/she going to do? There seem to be loads of professionals out there doing Land Registry Compliant Maps but I don't see any of them saying they look at what the deeds say.

    Any advice much appreciated.

    Post edited by eggerb on


  • Registered Users Posts: 78,087 ✭✭✭✭Victor

    A text description only may be problematic, as most sites are not perfect rectangles.

    I think what your solicitor is pointing to is getting specialist advice from a barrister (although there may be some solicitors that could advise). This may cost.

    Getting a land surveyor (site surveyor) to survey the current boundaries might be something to do it the mean time.

    Do note that spending thousands or tens of thousands over half a metre of land generally isn't worth the aggravation to you or your neighbours. It may be worth it where that half metre is critical, e.g. that's where your vehicular access or water pipes are.

  • Registered Users Posts: 366 ✭✭eggerb

    I’ve checked the credentials of the person recommended by my solicitor. He seems to be a chartered engineer and BER Assessor that produces land registry compliant maps. That sounds very engineering focused as opposed to legal focused. He’s not SCSI registered as far as I can see. I’m not doubting him as a professional in his field; I just want the best type of professional for my problem.

    Post edited by eggerb on

  • Registered Users Posts: 366 ✭✭eggerb

    Thanks for the input. Much appreciated. I should probably clarify that it’s not a neighbour, it’s a developer who has bought some land not directly adjacent but on the other side of a Taken in Charge Lane. The area in question is about 30-40 sq metres in total. 60% of that is on the other side of my garden wall. The other 40% contains a garage that my father used for close to 50 years but the vehicular gate to the public lane was boarded up after he died. The garage is accessible to vehicles via a public lane (‘roadway’ per a council Taken in Charge Certificate) that the developer has blocked access to. On the house side, through the garden, it is directly accessible through a pedestrian doorway. A second-hand car dealer in the area was using the 60% (and the equivalent area of two neighbours) to park cars. My deceased father’s old garage has always been locked but he’s decided to include it in his land grab. (I’ve updated the title based on that last sentence!) I reckon the long term plan is to have the lane re-designated from public to private and bag a bit more land. Some developers tried this redesignation previously in the early 2000s but nothing came of it. (I think the relevant statute to do so is ‘extinguishment of a right of way’ under Section 73 of the Roads Act 1993)

  • Registered Users Posts: 78,087 ✭✭✭✭Victor

    Engineer can do it, but may be more expensive. If hired at extra cost, make sure you are getting more than just a survey.

    Most chartered engineers would be members of

  • Registered Users Posts: 366 ✭✭eggerb

    What will be doing over and above the survey? Will he look at the deeds that state the front-to-rere measurements?

    I was encouraged to come across the SCSI's professional guidance procedure for boundary identification demarcation and dispute resolution document:

    3.3.3 is the relevant section. Thankfully the deed I am referencing is a full extract from the transcript of the memorial. (It has a Registry of Deeds reference). Also, it gives exact measurements in feet and inches. The site is not complicated to geographical identify insofar as it is on a city street and rectangular per the deeds.

    3.3.3 Deeds without Maps and Memorials of Deeds Interpreting legal boundaries from deeds without maps or from memorials of deeds is inherently problematic and presents risks in interpretation to the surveyor. Memorials, which are summaries of deeds registered in the Registry of Deeds, are used when deeds are lost or unavailable. Memorials rarely contain dimensions or descriptions which are of use to surveyors. Descriptions of lands in deeds without maps usually comprise perimeter dimensions. They do not define the shape or precise geographical location of the site. The dimensions frequently include a road frontage which, depending on the date of the deed, may have been realigned and significantly altered in the intervening years thereby compromising possibly two or three dimensions. Surveyors should obtain the advice of a solicitor or legal researcher to verify the relevant title when interpreting spatial data from more complex deeds, including deeds which contain recitals of previous titles. Such deeds may contain two or more sets of measurements or descriptions of the extent of titles, which include titles from which the subject title is derived. To interpret the legal boundary it is recommended that the surveyor consults the most recent edition of the ordnance survey map and identifies the lands concerned. This will assist in determining the shape and geographical location. By tracing features that have survived through successive editions of the ordnance survey maps or other map or survey sources and by carrying out a topographic survey, it may be possible to set out the boundaries as defined in the deed. It is advisable to map and describe accordingly, any part of the lands defined by the deed which have been incorporated in a road widening or other such development. Such detail facilitates explanation and interpretation for all parties involved in a current or future property transaction or boundary resolution issue. In dealing with all deeds and memorials of deeds surveyors are advised to liaise with solicitors and legal researchers.

    The professional recommended is registered with Engineers Ireland and 20+ years of experience but not with SCSI.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,559 ✭✭✭ittakestwo

    If the deeds just gave front to depth and width measurement how would you know where to start the measurements? It needs a map.

    OSI mapping does not show legal boundaries. It shows physical features, like walls etc.

    Tbh from reading it looks like you're going down a legal route. The land registry wont register your plot without a map and you also got someone else claiming what you think is your garden as theirs. If you ever went to sell you would have no map to give to a buyer's solicitor. It is unsaleable as it is.

    You will need to get a court declaration as to what is yours.

    All an engineer will do is what a surveyor for the OSI does. Give you a map showing lines with physical features. This does not mean that what is between these lines is your property.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,559 ✭✭✭ittakestwo

    First of all if the developer has blocked a public highway ring the local council informing them of this. It is up to them to keep public highways free from obstructions.

    At this stage you are going to have decide are you going to fight for this land or give it up. Fighting for it could cost alot of money if you lose. If you do decide to fight for it would you not break open the door from the garage onto the laneway, inform council that start of this public highway is blocked and you cant park in your garage. This could lead to an injuction by the developer but at least you will have movement towards a hearing where it will be decided who is the owner.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,827 ✭✭✭s8n

    any update on this ?

  • Registered Users Posts: 78,087 ✭✭✭✭Victor

    Note that many back lanes are simply an arrangement between neighbours and are not in the charge of the council. There may or may not be a public right of way.

  • Registered Users Posts: 366 ✭✭eggerb

    Thanks for the input everybody. The site is not complicated to geographically identify insofar as it is on a city terraced street and rectangular per the deeds. The property is unregistered. However, other several properties on the same street have been mapped and registered with the Land Registry with no question as to what is the beginning of the site at the front (imagine a row of houses with perfectly straight railings).

    It does look like we are going down the legal route as reckoned above. However, my solicitor has suggested I contact an engineer he has recommended first.

    As Victor suggested above, I'll make sure I am getting more than a survey so that is something key I want to discuss with the engineer. Whatever, I get I want it to stand up in court alongside whatever interpretation of the deeds may unfold.

    I have engaged with the council and they have issued me (after payment) with a taken in charge certificate for the lane at the back. I have been advised that two sections in the council will investigate a complaint regarding the public road being blocked viz. (i) roads and (ii) planning enforcement.

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