Am I the registered owner of my land?

by Karen Walsh

Land or property can be acquired by a number of means.

The most common methods would be purchasing, inheritance or a gift.

In respect of any of the above methods, you would be required to instruct a solicitor, who would prepare the legal documents required for transfer, probate or purchase.

Normally, a document known as a deed has to be signed by the parties involved.

Ownership will normally pass once the deed is signed.

The solicitor will then register the ownership.

There are two systems under which property in Ireland is registered, the Registration of Title system, and the Registration of Deeds system.

These are controlled and managed by an independent statutory body, the Property Registration Authority (PRA), and are governed by the Registration of Deeds and Title Acts 1964 and 2006, the Registration of Title Rules 2012 to 2013, and the Registration of Deeds Rules 2008 to 2013.

Registration of Title and the Land Registry

Property registered at the Land Registry is referred to as “registered land”.

Land Registry is a system of registration of land which provides a State-guaranteed title to property.

When a title is registered in the Land Registry, all relevant details about the property are recorded on folios, documents which record information about the registered property, including the registered owner, any burdens such as mortgages on the property and includes a map, or filed plan, of the property.

Each property is given a separate folio number.

The file plan shows the area of land attached to the folio.

Paper-based maps which existed in the Land Registry were converted to digital maps between 2005 and 2010, as part of the Digital Mapping Project.

This provides easy access to maps, however maps must still be checked on the ground by an engineer or surveyor to check their accuracy, as the Land Registry offers no guarantee of accuracy.

The title shown on the folio is guaranteed by the State under s.31 of the Registration of Title Act 1964.

This means that the State must indemnify any person who has suffered a loss through a mistake made by the Land Registry.

Land Registry maps are not conclusive as to boundaries, so these must also be checked on the ground before you purchase. This is a public system, and members of the public can inspect a folio and filed plan on payment of a fee to the Land Registry, or on for a €5 fee.

Registration of Deeds

There is a significant amount of property in Ireland that is not registered in the Land Registry. This property is usually then registered in the alternative system, the Registry of Deeds.

Land registered in the Registry of Deeds is known as “unregistered land”.

The Registry of Deeds records the priority of deeds.

Priority is given to registered deeds over unregistered and subsequent deeds.

The main difference between the Land Registry and the Registry of Deeds is that the Registry of Deeds does not record official ownership of property, and thus does not guarantee title.

It records the existence of a deed in relation to particular property and a particular transaction.

Defective deeds can be registered in the Registry of Deeds, which can cause future problems in respect of title.

Deeds lodged in the Land Registry are returned to the person who lodged them for registration, and a record of the registration is kept by the Registry of Deeds.

Compulsory First Registration

The vast majority of the land in the State, and of legal titles in Ireland, are now registered in the Land Registry.

It is now compulsory in this country to register Registry of Deeds titles in the Land Registry.

This requirement arises upon the purchase of a property, that is, the purchaser of unregistered land is obliged to register it.

If you are unsure as to whether your title to land or property has been registered, we would recommend that you instruct a solicitor as soon as possible.

Karen Walsh, from a farming background, is a solicitor practicing in Walsh & Partners, Solicitors, 17, South Mall, Cork (021-4270200), and author of ‘Farming and the Law’. Walsh & Partners also specialises in personal injury claims, conveyancing, probate and family law.

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