There are 2 separate systems for recording property transactions:
- The registration of title system (Land Registry) which provides a State-guaranteed title to property and
- The registration of deeds system (Registry of Deeds) which records the existence of deeds and conveyances affecting property
A title is the ownership of a property and a deed is a written document that affects property.
Both systems are mutually exclusive. Your solicitor will know which of the 2 systems is relevant to your case. Both systems are under the control and management of the Property Registration Authority (PRA), an independent statutory body set up under the Registration of Deeds and Title Act 2006.
The Land Registry: registration of title
When title or ownership is registered in the Land Registry, all relevant details concerning the property and its ownership are entered on documents known as folios. These form the registers maintained in the Land Registry.
Property that is registered at the Land Registry is known as registered land, as every transaction on a property is registered on a folio. The folio is guaranteed by the State to be a confirmed record of the title to the property to which it refers.
A folio is a document that describes the property registered; refers to a plan on the Registry maps; gives the name and address of the registered owner(s) and describes any burdens affecting the property, for example, rights of way or charges (mortgages). You can use the folio to find out who has the title or ownership of a property, without having to read the original deeds.
The Land Registry also maintains maps or title plans of property described in the registers. These maps do not indicate whether a boundary includes a hedge, wall, ditch etc., so the registers are therefore not conclusive as to boundaries. Any dispute as to boundaries must be resolved by the relevant parties - if they cannot reach agreement it is a matter for the courts to resolve.
You can search for a folio or title plan on landdirect.ie or you can inspect a plain copy of a folio in the PRA’s public offices, which costs €5. You can also request a certified copy, which costs €40. There is more detail in these FAQs.
If the property is not registered in the Land Registry it may have been dealt with by the Registry of Deeds.
Registration of Deeds system
The Registry of Deeds was established in 1708 for the purpose of registering and filing memorials of deeds or conveyances of unregistered land.
A memorial is a summary of the deed, giving the date, the names and descriptions of all parties and all witnesses to the deed and a description of the property affected by the deed. Since May 2008, memorials have been replaced by ROD application forms.
When a deed is lodged in the Registry of Deeds it is not filed there permanently - it is returned to the party who lodged it for registration. Instead a ROD application form (formerly a memorial) is filed. The new signed deed becomes the latest deed showing the ownership of the property, adding to a chain of deeds that go back to when the property was first registered.
Deeds that are recorded in the Registry of Deeds have a legal priority over unrecorded deeds and other deeds recorded later in time.
As the memorial or ROD application form is on public record at the Registry of Deeds, anyone can inspect it and see who owns the property. However, a purchaser of unregistered land must read the actual deeds to examine the title to the property.
Because the Registry of Deeds keeps a memorial or ROD application form summarising the change of ownership or mortgage, you can get a copy of this document to replace a lost or misplaced deed. A memorial or ROD application form does not have the same legal effect as a deed but provides secondary evidence of the contents of the deed. You can get a certified copy for €20 and a plain copy for €1 per page.