Irish Property Law: What You Need to Know Before You Buy

Guide to Irish Property Law

Are you thinking about buying a house in Ireland? But not sure about all the legal ins and outs? Here’s our guide to Irish property law, to help you on your journey to buying a home.

1. How is the Property Being Sold?

Most properties are bought and sold privately, through real estate agents. However, there are still a number of properties sold each year by public auction. This process is often seen as a more daunting task than buying property privately and there are several important considerations to keep in mind.

When buying a property by public auction, it’s advisable to instruct your solicitor to make the necessary precautionary enquires. Before the auction, it’s essential to have the property surveyed and the title investigated. It is also necessary to have the financial arrangements in place, prior to the auction. Once the auctioneer says ‘SOLD’, if you’re bid has been successful, you are committed to purchasing the property. Irish property law dictates that you are liable to pay a deposit immediately and the remaining balance the following the month. So, ensure your financing arrangements are finalised before you head to the auction house.

2. What Kind of Title is it?

In Irish property law, a property ‘title’ refers to the documents that prove ownership of a property. There are two types of title in Ireland – Land Registry title (Registered) and Registry of Deeds title (Unregistered).

According to Irish property law, the owner of a Land Registry Title will have a numbered folio. This records the name and address of the owner, a description of the property and a map of the property, known as the file plan. A folio is conclusive proof of a person’s ownership of the property. When Land Registry property is being sold, the folio must be produced in order to sell the property.

On the other hand, the Registry of Deeds title occurs where the title has built up over a number of years. These documents would include Deeds of Conveyance used to transfer freehold-unregistered land or Deeds of Assignment used to transfer leasehold unregistered land.
On completion of a sale of unregistered property the purchase deed is lodged with the registry of deeds where the details of the registration and the time of the registration are noted on the Deed. The main reason for registering a deed in the Registry of deeds is that the time of Registration governs conflicts between two different deeds, e.g. if two mortgages on the one property are lodged on the one day the one that is registered first will have priority.

3. Freehold or Leasehold?

In general, land is either freehold or leasehold. Under Irish property law, a freehold interest in property is the highest interest that can be held by an individual and generally speaking such an owner can do what they wish with the property.

On the other hand, a leasehold interest is less than a freehold one. Unlike a freehold interest, a leasehold is for a term of years and accordingly will end at some time in the future.  The owner of the freehold is granting a lease for a period of time and therefore creates a landlord and tenant relationship.

4. Searches

Over the course of purchasing a property, there are a number of enquiries a purchaser should make. While some are made on the day that the contract closes, others need to be done prior to the contract being executed.

For example, the Planning Search must be carried out before the contract is executed as it lets the purchaser know how the property is zoned. Whether that be commercial or otherwise. It also informs the potential buyer of any planning permission applications in respect of the property.

5. Costs

As per Irish law there are a number of mandatory fees that must be paid when purchasing a property, like Stamp Duty for example. However, there are often a number of other hidden fees like search fees, surveyors fees and a registration fee that’s associated with registering the title of a property.

As solicitors specialising in property law we have extensive experience in helping property owners with legal issues surrounding their property. Contact a member of our legal team to get your problem fixed today.

Anthony Joyce

Anthony founded Anthony Joyce & Co. Solicitors in March 2004 in the oldest part of Dublin known as the Liberties (originally a tax free part of Dublin!!). He is focused on building the practice in certain niche areas of law such as financial litigation and personal insolvency. Entrepreneurship is in his blood and he is on the board of a number of start-ups. If Anthony is not available he could be watching a SpaceX rocket launch, spending time with his two children or playing 5-a-side.

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