A land ownership law, brought in twelve years ago, has a deadline of this Winter for applicants to register for easements and profits-à-prendre. The Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2009 (the 2009 Act) radically changed the way in which easements and profits-à-prendre may be registered under Irish law.

Easements are the rights which an owner/occupier of land has, by virtue of their ownership of land, over the land of a neighbour. For example, right of way, light, support and water. While profits a prendre is a right to go on another person’s land and take natural material from it. For example, to cut timber or turf, to mine or quarry, graze animals, fish or hunt.

Many properties, in some way or another, rely or depend on rights, in, under or over another property, in order to function properly. This may be something very visible like a right to cross over a laneway to access your property or something not as visible, such as the right for water to run through pipes under a neighbour’s land. In many cases, these rights are well documented but, in some cases, these rights are acquired by long use over a period of time and the owner is deemed to have acquired them by prescription. If you have land that benefits from rights over another property in this way, then it may be time for you to take action to preserve these rights.

One of the purposes of the 2009 Act was to bring greater certainty to easement claims. There are now two methods of registering such rights, by Circuit Court order or by making an application to the Property Registration Authority (the PRA).

Applicants have until 30 November 2021 to avail of the old user period timeframes and from 1 December 2021, new user period timeframes will apply for the registration of easements and profits.

Prior to 2009, a person could acquire an easement after 20 years continuous use and after 40 years continuous use the right would be absolute and indefensible, unless based on written consent. To acquire a profit à prendre, it was necessary for a claimant to show a user period of 30 years and after 60 years the right would be deemed absolute and indefensible, again unless based on written consent.

The 2009 Act provides that either an easement or profit à prendre can be acquired after 12 years continuous use without interruption. The user period differs where the property over which the easement or profit à prendre is claimed is owned by the State, the minimum period is 30 years and 60 years if the property is foreshore.

For full details on how to make an application for registration, practitioners should consult the PRA practice direction ‘Registration of easements and profits à prendre acquired by prescription under section 49A’, available on its website, www.prai.ie.

NB – This is a guide for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have an issue requiring legal advice, please contact any of the team at Nolan Farrell & Goff LLP, whose numbers can be found on our website www.nfg.ie, or email info@nfg.ie.