The 2009 Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act changed the law in respect of unregistered rights of way, in providing that they now could be registered, but included a deadline to do so within 3 years (from December 2009) or be obliged to wait a further 12 years. Following representations by rural practitioners through the Law Society, the deadline for registration of easements (which includes rights of way) was extended by Section 38 of the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011 by substituting “within 12 years” for “within 3 years” in Section 38 (b) of the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2009
This means that applicants for registration have until 30th November 2021 to register (instead of 30th November 2012 as had been the case prior to the 2011 amending legislation). The other good news is that it also made the process easier. Under the 2009 Act, it seemed the only way to establish your right was by a Court action. Under the 2011 amendment an application for registration, can now be made direct to the Property Registration Authority (PRA, formerly Land Registry) by way of a sworn affidavit.
Many rural dwellers are already familiar with similar claims of ‘squatters rights’, where ownership can be registered after 12 years exclusive possession. There was no provision before to register your right to use lands you did not own or exclusively occupy. If you do own property that has a right over other property (such as access up a lane, a septic tank in a neighbour’s field, or your water coming from a well in the hill) you should consult your solicitor. With the recent publicity it may be a good time to deal with it to perfect your title and have your rights registered as otherwise it may be more difficult to sell your property. Donegal is one of the remaining counties where registration of title has become compulsory, and the maps have been digitised. This will make dealing with land easier in the future.