What are property title and deeds?
Property title is the legal way of saying you own property or land. Property deeds are the legal documents used to transfer the ownership of property from one person to another.
If you are buying or selling a property you will come across these terms. However, usually your solicitor will look after recording the property transaction and change of ownership when you buy or sell a home.
Recording property transactions
There are 2 separate systems for recording property transactions:
- The Land Registry system is where property ownership (or title) is registered, and property deeds are filed.
- The Registry of Deeds system records the existence of deeds and conveyances for unregistered property. (Unregistered property is property where the title is not registered with the Land Registry.)
Property registration in Ireland is gradually moving away from the older system that records deeds in the Registry of Deeds to the ‘title registration system’ at the Land Registry.
Since June 2011, it is compulsory for unregistered property purchased in Ireland to be registered with the Land Registry. Currently, almost 90% of the legal titles in Ireland are now registered in the Land Registry.
Registering property ownership with the Land Registry
When title or ownership of property is registered with the Land Registry, the Land Registry files the deeds and enters details about the property and its ownership on folios.
- Describes the registered property
- Refers to a plan on the Land Registry maps
- Gives the name and address of the registered owner
- Describes any burdens on the property, for example, rights of way, fishing rights or mortgages
Property registered at the Land Registry on a folio is known as registered land. The folio is guaranteed by the State to be a confirmed record of the ownership of the property. Applications to register title must be made by qualified legal practitioners.
Land Registry maps
The Land Registry maintains maps or title plans of property described in its registers. These maps do not indicate if a boundary includes a hedge, wall or ditch, so the registers are not conclusive on boundaries. Any dispute about boundaries must be resolved by the people involved. If they cannot reach agreement on the boundaries, the courts will resolve the matter.
How do I find out who owns a property
You can use a folio to find out who owns a property, without having to read the original deeds. You can:
- Search for a folio or map on landdirect.ie. It costs €5 to view a folio.
- Inspect a plain copy of a folio in Tailte Éireann’s public offices. This costs €5.
- Request a certified copy of a folio or folio and map. This costs €40.
How do I register that I have paid off my mortgage
When you finish paying off your mortgage you will receive a Deed of Discharge from your lending institution. This should be lodged in the Land Registry with a completed Application for Registration and a fee of €40.
The Registry of Deeds system
If property title or ownership is not registered with the Land Registry, it is known as unregistered property. The Registry of Deeds records the existence of deeds and conveyances of unregistered property.
When a deed is lodged in the Registry of Deeds it must have an ROD application form, which gives a summary of the deed. The Registry of Deeds file the ROD application form as a permanent record of the property transaction. The property deeds are returned to the person who lodged them, they are not filed with the Registry of Deeds.
An ROD application form (previously known as a memorial) contains:
- The date of the deed
- The names and descriptions of all parties and all witnesses to the deed
- A description of the property
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 at a later time.
You can inspect an ROD application form to see who owns an unregistered property. However, if you are buying unregistered land, you must read the actual deeds to examine the title to the property.
What if I have lost the deeds to a property registered with the Registry of Deeds?
If you lose the deeds to a property which is not registered with the Land Registry, you can get a copy of your memorial or ROD application form from the Registry of Deeds. These documents summarise the change of ownership or mortgage and can be used to replace a lost or misplaced deed. An ROD application form does not have the same legal effect as a deed, but it provides secondary evidence of the contents of the deed. You can get a certified copy of an ROD application form for €20 and a plain copy for €1 per page.
Property registration and property fraud
Tailte Éireann has a property alert service so property owners can monitor their registered properties for fraudulent activity. Property fraud could involve someone pretending to be you and trying to sell or mortgage your property without you knowing. If you sign up to the property alert service, you will get an email or text if someone lodges an application about your property with Tailte Éireann. If the activity is fraudulent you can take action. To find out more, or to sign up for the service, visit landdirect.ie.