We’ve lost house deeds – will they really take three years to replace?

It will be time-consuming but it should not take quite that long

Photograph: iStock

Photograph: iStock


Q My aunt can’t find the deeds of her house. Her late husband was a builder and built two houses, one for them and one for his sister. The deeds of the sister’s house are there and a portfolio number but not for my aunt’s house. The solicitor has said it could take up to three years to get deeds. Can you explain why it should take so long? And is there any way we can get them more quickly?

A If your aunt’s sister-in-law has a folio then it is likely that your aunt’s house has a similar title – she may be agreeable to providing you with a copy of her title, which might assist you. An online mapping search in the Property Registration Authority (PRA) will quickly reveal if your aunt’s property is similarly registered in the Land Registry.

If on the other hand, the land was registered in the Registry of Deeds, it should be possible to take up copy memorials and reconstruct the legal title to the land. Hopefully your aunt will recall the name of the vendor to her late husband, as you will need this information to search against it in the Registry of Deeds (registration in the Registry of Deeds is made by reference to the name of the grantor/vendor in the deed, not the grantee/purchaser). There are a number of bonded law searchers who carry out this work. What is of more concern, perhaps, is the matter of planning compliance. If you cannot produce the planning permissions for the house and the architect’s opinions on compliance, then your aunt will have problems completing a sale. The bonded law searchers can be retained to carry out a planning search, which will reveal what permissions refer to the property and you can then take up copies of the relevant permissions from the local authority. The permissions should be given to your aunt’s architect or engineer to prepare opinions on compliance.

It will be time-consuming reconstructing the title, but I do not think it will take quite as long as three years. Once the title has been reconstructed it would be prudent to place it in some form of safe deposit facility or buy a fire-resistant safe for it.

  • Paul Stack is a solicitor at P & G Stack Solicitors

Will adjacent car park and high wall devalue my property?

Q I live in a Dublin suburb and recently (despite objections) a commercial business was granted planning permission to extend their car park into the garden next door. They will erect a 2.4m-high wall, running the length of the boundary between the two gardens, but on their side of the boundary line. I feel that this development will devalue my property and wonder if I am entitled to any compensation in this regard. Incidentally another neighbour owns the leasehold on the property which expressly forbids any commercial development on the site. Is this of any pertinence in this matter?

A All planning decisions made by planning authorities may be subject to independent review by An Bord Pleanála (the planning appeals board). I am assuming you have made a valid third-party planning submission or observation to the council and you will now be entitled to make an appeal to the board.

However, in the event that you did not make such a submission, then you may still qualify as a direct third-party objector to An Bord Pleanála. Planning regulations allow a person with an interest in land (eg a landowner/occupier) adjoining the application site to apply directly to the board for leave to appeal the decision of the planning authority without having made initial submissions or observations to the planning authority.

The board may only grant leave to appeal, where (1) a person has an interest in land adjoining land in respect to the application site, (2) shows that the decision of the planning authority to grant permission will differ materially from the application for permission because of conditions imposed, and (3) shows that the conditions imposed will materially affect the applicant’s enjoyment of land or reduce the value of the land. It is notable that a high percentage of such applications for leave to appeal fail because the applicant for leave to appeal does not satisfy the board that he/she complies with the requirements of same.

There are strict statutory time limits for appeals (circa four weeks) to the board and you must comply with all requirements for a valid appeal to be considered. Check the board’s website (www.pleanala.ie).

No challenge may be made to the board’s planning decision other than to its legal validity. A person wishing to challenge the validity of such a decision may only do so by way of judicial review to the Courts.

Will the extension of the car park and the erection of the proposed 2.4m-high boundary wall “devalue” your property? To try to answer this question I need to consider the potential impacts on your dwelling: the presence of the extended car park may result in potential excess noise affecting your property, may also restrict sunlight into your home/ garden, and the construction of this high wall has the potential to be unsightly.

If the answer to the above is yes, then you may certainly have a cause of action. However, one would expect that the local authority/An Bord Pleanála will have been mindful of your personal enjoyment and use of your own residential property in deciding upon the planning application, even in the absence of a submission or observation from you on the proposed development. A grant of planning permission will generally contain specific planning conditions (some of which may be in your favour, eg increased height of wall) and the developer must carry out all such conditions to the satisfaction of the planning authority.

Notwithstanding the above, it may still be feasible for you to approach the owner of the adjoining property and articulate your concerns to establish if they would be willing to consider providing a wall which is more aesthetically pleasing (eg stone finish, etc), subject to the agreement of the planning authority. In addition, it may be possible to incorporate some landscaping provisions on your side of this new wall to try to screen the commercial look of it.

If you feel strongly about your loss, it will be necessary to consult a solicitor to see if you have any grounds for compensation. It is advisable that you discuss the foregoing with your solicitor promptly, as the available options for appeal and legal follow-up will be considerably reduced as the weeks pass and the development commences.

  • Andrew O’Gorman is a Chartered Building Surveyor and member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland.

Send your queries to propertyquestions@irishtimes.com or to Property Clinic, The Irish Times, 24-28 Tara Street, Dublin 2. This column is a readers’ service. Advice given is general and individual advice should always be sought

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