Our neighbour has extended her garden into a shared lane. Can she do this?
Property Clinic: Your questions answered
Many houses have lanes to the rear.
In our area there are lots of streets that have little lanes running at the back of the houses, many of them are narrow, and not really suitable as drive-ins. My neighbour at the end of our cul-de-sac has removed the wall at the end of her garden and extended it into the lane at the back of our house. She is now using her bit of lane as a patio. Is this legal? If not, what can we do about it?
The question is not concerned with surveying outright but more the legalities of what your neighbour is doing, however it does have an in-built surveying component, ie to establish the spatial aspects of the plot.
You need to you establish who exactly owns the interest in the particular lane that you describe. You should also try and establish what purpose the laneway was supposed to serve, for example was access/egress to your house, your neighbour’s house, both of your houses or other houses altogether?
If the cul-de-sac is registered with the Property Registration of Authority of Ireland (PRAI) it will be relatively straightforward to establish who has title to it. However, if it is not you should try the Registry of Deeds and search there although that may be a little more difficult.
A good starting point perhaps is your own solicitor who may have dealt with you when you were buying your house and may have some of the most relevant information to hand.
Since the area of concern is very specific in nature, you should also consider having a measured survey of the lane (plot of ground) completed. The survey will precisely and accurately detail the spatial attributes relating to the lane, which may then be used in correspondence going forward. You should also have your surveyor check that the area corresponds with and is included within your title; it is likely that they will work with your solicitor to be sure that the correct documents are used.
If you do not have a sufficient interest in the plot of ground that your neighbour is occupying, it is unlikely you will be in a position to formally oppose what your neighbour is doing.
If there is a residents’ association in the area it may be able to help you. It may also be able to assist you in addressing your concerns in a collective manner, if there are a few other houses involved, and help with regularising the lane going forward.
As a general point about patios, typically, they are considered planning exempt (once they are not more than 1m above or below existing ground level). However, that is subject to many things such as site location and planning history . If you do have planning concerns you should consult with your local authority and they will advise you further.
Sarah Sherlock is a chartered geomatics surveyor, accredited mediator, and member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, scsi.ie