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My neighbour is using a lane I own to access his house. What can I do?

Property Clinic: Even with title deeds, issues can arise if land isn’t used for several years

A chartered geomatics surveyor can resolve issues of land ownership between neighbouring properties. Photograph: Getty Images

My deeds show my property runs to the far side of an old farm lane to the back of my house. My neighbour has cleared the lane and made a rough road out of it to access the back of his house. Where do I stand on ownership?

Your deeds may suggest that you own the laneway, however, if you and your predecessors in title have not ever used or benefited from the laneway for several years, then you may have an issue.

Likewise, it is not unheard of, nor is it impossible that you and your neighbour’s information both indicate that the laneway belongs to both of you! The only way that will not happen is if both you and your neighbour’s property are registered with the Property Registration Authority (PRA).

The PRA registers properties but its index will not register the same parcel multiple times. If that situation arises a query will be raised and the registration will not be finalised until it is resolved. You should consult with your solicitor if required and take legal advice as the question of ownership is a legal matter, not a surveying one.

Boundaries

However, issues such as the exact location of land and boundaries are. To ascertain these it will be necessary that you have a ground truth survey (GTS) conducted to establish some spatial “facts” in relation to where things are and how they relate to the deeds that you refer to.

A chartered geomatics surveyor is best placed to assist you with the GTS. They will use specialist equipment and their expertise to measure and record the necessary relevant information for your property.

It will be necessary to establish the authoritative data from Ordnance Survey Ireland and the PRA about the area too and see what that says – your surveyor will do that.

That will then be compared against your GTS.

If the authoritative data (PRA will only apply if one or both are registered), GTS and deeds all suggest that the laneway falls within your ownership then the matter is at least factually clear from that perspective. You will then have the necessary information to give to your solicitor or indeed to approach and inform your neighbour. – Sarah Sherlock

Sarah Sherlock is a chartered geomatic surveyor and a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, scsi.ie

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