A boundary issue with a house we’re viewing. Should we run a mile?

What are our options legally? Is there a prospect of reclaiming the land?

You cannot use and or rely upon a Registry Map to exert the exact position of a boundary save for very limited circumstances

You cannot use and or rely upon a Registry Map to exert the exact position of a boundary save for very limited circumstances


My partner and I have our eye on a terraced house to buy, but there is an issue with the boundary wall to the rear of the property. It encroaches at least a metre into the garden, meaning the side of the neighbour’s garden is actually the dining room wall belonging to what would be our house. According to the Land Registry maps, the official boundary is the line between the two houses. The vendor is an elderly person who has lived there all their lives, and they say the wall has always been the same. It is structurally unsound however and would need to be rebuilt if we purchased. What are our options legally? Is there a possibility of reclaiming the land? Or if we were to have the wall rebuilt in its current location (which is more likely, in an effort not to ruin relations with new neighbours), might we have problems reselling down the line? Should we run a mile?

It is quite likely that the Land Registry Map you describe is in fact an extract (or possibly a view from the link you sent) from the Registry that the Property Registration Authority of Ireland (PRAI) keep and maintain. The Land Registry/PRAI operate a non-conclusive boundary system.

The Registry Map identifies properties not boundaries meaning that neither the description of land in a register nor its identification by reference to a registry map is conclusive as to the boundaries or extent (See Section 85 of the Registration of Title Act, 1964), as inserted by Section 62 of the Registration of Deed and Title Act 2006. Therefore, you cannot use and or rely upon a Registry Map to exert the exact position of a boundary save for very limited circumstances.

It does seem as though the particular terrace of houses was not developed, in its entirety, at the same time. The section, at the end, where one and three are located were developed at a later stage. Therefore, it is not safe to assume, (without having compelling knowledge to the contrary) that the plots will or should have regular spatial form. It may be the case that the plots, as they currently exist, are as they were actually intended.

From the question it does seem as though the vendor, who has lived there for some considerable time, is of the opinion that the property is as it always was. On that basis, save for a “line” drawn by the eye or possibly from looking at large scale plans, it is not clear why you are of the opinion that the rear wall is in fact encroaching the plot that you are considering.

In order to advance your query it will be necessary to obtain a copy of the Title pertaining to the property – more particularly the written description together with the map [if] appended to describe the plot. Typically, Title (Deed) Maps tend to be rather illustrative and sometimes have notes, measurements and or other things penned on them, which is useful when trying to establish what actually pertains to a plot.

You should have a geomatics surveyor conduct a measured survey of the plot of ground that you intend to purchase and then have them examine their results against the Title Map[s] and written description [s]. Nuances, if and where they arise should be brought to attention of your solicitor who will query them so as to establish exactly what it is that is being offered for sale and what it is you may actually purchase an interest in. Such clarity should obviate any confusion when you come to sell the property.

Sarah Sherlock is a Chartered Geomatics Surveyors and member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland.