Published in ‘The Irish Field’, Saturday April 23rd 2016
Property Boundary Issues – Having a clear understanding is essential before any action is taken;
For Irish people, land is an extension of who we are and property boundary disputes seem to confirm this time and time again. For centuries man has been possessive and territorial over land and property. Ireland, from 1997 to 2007, witnessed a property bubble and collapse from 2008 onward with the result being one of the world’s most expensive banking bailouts ever. The value of land and property had inflated up to over 200% and the average home prices rose by 280% by 2007 (Global Property Guide, 2011).
Boundary disputes between neighbours can be wretched affairs where the financial cost of litigation frequently exceeds the value of the land concerned and in some cases have been known to destroy neighbour relations. Sometimes the area of land in dispute can be very small, but litigation may ensue because of its critical location or its strategic importance to the owners concerned. In other cases the land/boundary dispute may become a proxy for another issue in dispute because the land concerned may not be worth very much at all.
There are many facets to be considered when it comes to property boundaries; it is not solely correctly recording the property boundaries on the 2D Land Registry maps. Other factors such as map scale, accuracy of the original survey and the maps presented for the original registration are also important. Maps are an integral aspect of determining property boundaries. For maps to be seriously considered and have some legal significance, a number of factors need to be determined, such as trying to establish the intention of the parties initially involved, the correspondence of description of the boundaries between the deed map and the deed, and whether there is evidence of original boundary points on the ground.
Ireland operates a non-conclusive boundary system through the services provided by the PRAi, where the map indicates the physical feature but not the property boundary. Therefore, the map needs to be supplied with additional evidence to support its interpretation, in contrast to other national systems in Europe where evidence from the map is rigorous and can be used to resolve disputes. The importance of maps in determining legal boundaries is vital when trying to determine boundaries on the ground, especially so, if there is a difference between the boundary evidence on the ground and the line recording the same boundary on the legal mapping.
Alongside boundary issues, encroachments of boundaries, rights of way and adverse possession issues are the common issues for surveyors. Property professionals must be on their guard and need to be well acquainted with all attributes to these issues to be able to offer reliable advice to property owners. Knowing the characteristics and nuances of each of these issues is essential to allow surveyors bring clarity to difficult and complex issues when on site. Landowners would be advised to engage Chartered Surveyors with good qualifications as well as experience to give best advice to resolve these problematic issues.
Dr. Daragh O’Brien