Registration of Rights of Way

John M. Lynch Podcast on Registration of Rights of Way

The Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2009 was introduced by the government to modernise conveyancing transactions.  One of the innovations was to make the registration of rights of way mandatory.

What does the term “Right of Way” mean? 

A right of way arises if you own a piece of land and in order to get to it you must pass over a piece of land or roadway which is owned by someone else.

Rights of Way, also known as easements makes it easier for one landowner, if s/he needs to get across someone’s land to get to his/her own land.

A right of way could be a laneway, a boreen, a gap in a fence that leads to property owned by someone who does not own the laneway, boreen, gap etc. e.g. a derelict house at the back of a field.  This can lead to controversy between both owners.                       

Are there different types of Rights of Way?

  • Rights of Way established by long use
  • Rights of Way created by a Document

Rights of Way established by long use

Many rights of way were created when a land owner used a piece of land, lane or private road, which belongs to another person, over a long period of time, to get to his property.  The main test to prove a right of way was the continuous use of the land for twenty years or more.  Up to now a right of way created by long and continuous use would generally not be registered.  A person who benefits from such a right of way e.g. the farmer who uses an adjoining owner’s property to access a remote part of his farm, or a house owner who uses a laneway to access the rear of his house.

Rights of Way created by Agreement

This situation arises when two land owners get together and agree that a right of way should or needs to be granted to allow one of them to access a piece of property which is landlocked.  This might happen in a situation where a large land holding is being broken up on a sale, or if a farmer is gifting his farm to a child and retaining a small portion for himself.  Quite often if a right of way is being created by deed or agreement the parties to the agreement will include conditions in the agreement for the use of the right of way e.g. if the right of way is over a private roadway it might stipulate that a gate is to be kept locked or there might be a restriction on the exercise of the right of way – e.g. it is for pedestrians only.  Once the right of way is agreed and recorded in writing it is usually registered.

How long does it take to establish a Right of Way?

These are by far the more difficult ones.  The Land Law and Conveyancing Act 2009 changed the old way of establishing a right of way which was that you had to prove a certain amount of right; in the Courts view 20 years.  This method led to difficulties so the 2009 Act tried to simplify the area of rights of way.  Since the 2009 Act a person can claim a right of way if s/he can prove that s/he had possession for 12 years.

Under the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2009 a person had to make a claim for a right of way within 3 years of the introduction of the Act.  This could not work in practice as the requisite 12 years would not have an amending piece of legislation was introduced – the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011.

The person who is establishing the right of way must be a user as of right; you have to prove permission and consent by the owner of the laneway etc. to the person who wishes to use it to access his own property. The law helps out by presuming consent where you show continuous use for more than 12 years.

What should I do to make sure I Don’t Lose my Right of Way? 

If you access your property by using a right of way over another person’s land you need to make sure that that right of way is registered with the Property Registration Authority (PRA).

The Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2009 originally provided that farmers had to go to court to register existing rights of way before 30th November 2012 or they could lose their right of way.  The Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011 extended the deadline for registration until the 30th November 2021.

There is also a straightforward procedure for registering Rights of Way in cases where all parties agree.

People can now make an application to register the right of way if it is not in dispute.  Under the legislation people had to prove 12 years from the date of the Act.  Historically, if there was a gap in the 12 years i.e. if there was a period of time during which the laneway etc was not used, you would have to start the time period again.

Under the 2009 Act people don’t have to start the time period of use of the right of way again.

 It is important for people to realise that for the next 9 years they can apply under the old rules to the Property Registration Authority to register Rights of Way.

If you wait until 2021 you could lose an opportunity and run into unnecessary  difficulty.

How do you go about registering a right of way that has been used for many years? 

An affidavit must be sworn by the person claiming the right of way setting out as much detail as possible about the right of way, how and when it is used, the details of the land over which it is exercised and the name and address of the person who owns the land.  You must also provide the land Registry with a map identifying the right of way.  The fee payable to the Property Registration Authority is €25.00.

The PRA will then notify the owner of the other property concerned and, once the application is not contested, the right will be registered.

If the right of is contested then the parties will have to use a different procedure, which involves an application to the Court seeking a Declaration confirming the existence of the right of way – essentially the court determines whether or not the ROW exists and if it is proven to exist the person claiming the right of way can then go to the PRA to seek its registration. 

Seek Advice and Take Action

If you are a land owner using a right of way you should look for advice to make sure that your long established rights of way are not lost.  Title documents should be checked at the earliest opportunity to find out if your right of way needs to be registered – if you don’t do something in time you could lose a valuable asset.

For further advice or if you wish to discuss any other legal area please contact [email protected] or telephone 052-6124344.

The material contained in this blog is provided for general information purposes only and does not amount to legal or other professional advice. While every care has been taken in the preparation of the information, we advise you to seek specific advice from us about any legal decision or course of action.

198 Comments to “ Registration of Rights of Way”

  1. Hans Stofberg says :Reply

    Hi to me it seems that with the new law on private roads they have not made it easier .
    If you live on a pirate road with say 6 houses and 5 farms you need you may need a lot of signatures and on every private lane there is someone that will not sign . And even if one does sign for a person that person does not have to return the favour . This system is very open for abuse.
    Why can they not give everyone with property on a private road give a right off way?

    Regads Hans

    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply


      The system of registration is a way of making rights of way official. However , you still have to establish a legal entitlement to such a right.

  2. John F says :Reply

    Hi John

    A bit of a tricky one. My father bought a house many years ago with a drive that has a right of way to a yard at the back of our property the man who used to own our house lived in the yard and ran a school bus service from the yard to which we had no problem with as the man was very respectful of our privacy since my father passed on i have inheritated the house and driveway and the man who used to own the yard sold it to another man who runs a school bus service from the yard. Over the years his business has grown a great deal and when I say a great deal we are talking 12-15 42 seater coaches that run from early morning until evening time,the drivers come and go at all times during the day and weekends and access use the drive way with great speed, during the summer months we have buses coming up and down our drive way at 3 and 4 o’clock in the morning. We have approached and asked on numerous occation’s if the noise levels and the unusual times of night the drive way is used can be reduce as to which we have been told a sturn NO and when we have asked buses have been left with engines running late at night when returning from a summer festival or concert run in a we think to annoy us, this has gone on and gotten worse over the years, we are looking to start and family and cannot do so with such great and annoying activity on a daily basis. I’m just wondering is there any advice you can give in regards to a commercial business being run from a residential area and a drive to a private dwelling being used at a very high rate on a daily basis.

    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

      Indeed it is a tricky one. Here a few preliminary observations on the facts as set out . Firstly , each case depends on the facts as proven. Secondly , if we accept that there is a right way, the extent of the right of way is the issue. Thirdly, the question is whether or not you can have excessive user of the right of way . The law would appear to be that unless the volume of traffic alters the nature of the right of way or destroys the way itself this is not excessive user and cannot be stopped There is also the issue as to whether the use of the neighbouring property constitutes an intensification of use which would require planning permission. A very tricky question and a very tricky answer!

  3. derek mc donald says :Reply

    I purchased a site in 2011 along with a 500m lane way. A right of way to two separate farms was part of the agreement. Since my purchase of the lane way and site one of the farmers has sold on 3 seperate sites and houses have been built. As planning permission was sought for each site I have signed a letter to say I was allowing a right of way. Now the farmer at the end of the lane way is opening up stables/livery etc.
    I dont have a problem with this. My concern is riders using the lane way and an accident occurring on my lane way. Can this farmer use my lane way to run his business or does the right of way just entitle him to travel to and from his property. Should I just talk to the farmer about insurance or do I need to send something more formal to address my concerns.Relationship with the two farmers whom are related is not good as with each planning application the council has insisted that a contribution be payed to upgrade the lane way that fronts each new site.They refused to pay any money over even though it was a planning condition. I stuck to my guns and refused to sign over right of way until monies was payed towards upgrade of lane way.
    Thanks Derek

    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply


      As understand it, you have a right to use a lane way and have no objection to another user using it for access to stables/livery. Your concern is any liability that might arise from such user and the insurance cover for such risk.

      I believe that it would be a wise precaution to ensure that such risk is , in fact, covered by the stable/livery owner. A polite note to that effect to him should suffice.

      It is an interesting question as to whether you would , as a user of the right of way, have any liability in any event.

  4. Damien Ryan says :Reply

    Hi John.
    My query is does the person looking to establish the right of way have to have been the one using the right of way for the 20 years or does the path just have to have been in use by anyone over the 20 year period. My mother has a driveway that goes across the corner of another man’s land. This man is being a nuisance with looking for her to move her driveway. The driveway into the house is there well over thirty years, maybe even forty, and been used by the owners of the house which used to be this man’s brother who left the house to my mother. If he is not agreeable to registering the right of way would it be much of a court battle seeing as the driveway has been there so long? Thanks, Damien.

    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply


      The long and the short of it , is that each case will depend on its facts. However,as a general statement ,if the person or person who used the driveway was a previous owner, then you should be able to make an application for the registration of a right of way.

  5. Nick says :Reply

    Hi John,

    There is a path at the end of my garden that has been in use since the house was built in the 1920s. We live on a country lane and there are approx 8 semi detached houses on it. The landowner of the path, who is also developing a number of farm buildings up the road, is in the process of erecting a fence at the end of all our gardens. This fence will not only stop my access to the path but will mean that my children will have to use a fast flowing country lane as an alternative. Selfishly it will also ruin my countryside views. The landowner is using Health and Safety fears as the reason behind erecting the fence – ie to stop us from having any accidents on his land as well as the use of sprays and large machinery in the orchards.

    What can I do to stop him erecting the fence and what rights do I have to access a path that has been in use since the buildings were made?

    Many thanks


    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

      When you say, he is erecting a gate at the end of your garden , I am assuming this is on the lane that he owns. If not , he is erecting it on your property and would not be entitled to do so.

      The question, on that assumption, ( and only an assumption, as you would have to establish ownership of the strip), is what can an owner of land over which you have a right of way do to such lane way
      The answer is , he can do anything that does not , in the eyes of a reasonable person (aka Judge ) , interfere with your use and enjoyment of such right.

      As you can understand that is a very difficult question to answer and will depend on how far you are prepared to go with your objection and risk the outcome of a third party ( judge) perspective.

      As always, the less expensive option is to talk.

  6. Mairtin says :Reply

    Hi. Just a quick question. Can a farmer erect an entrance to a field at any point on the road way? A local farmer has recently created a new gateway into his lamd next to my home with a dirt track going around my site. Consequently, there are cattle gathering at the gate and they often wake me with their calls for feed at an ungodly hour. It also takes from the value of my property. What recourse do I have?

    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply


      There are a number of potential questions in there – can the farmer erect the entrance? As a owner he is entitled to do what he wishes subject to certain restrictions. I am assuming that this is a recent occurrence, in which case, he may need planning permission. This depends on the roadway, its ownership and the type of roadway . If it a public road , he may need planning. The second issue is the cattle : if they are causing a nuisance this is actionable under general law and under noise legislation.

      1. Michael cambell says :Reply


        What is the situation in regards above problem if the entrance was coming on to a public lane way not a roadway? Is the a limit to the size gate that can be erected as its for farming purposes?

        1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

          Not sure what your first problem is – but if its a public laneway the situation should be similar to it being a public road where the public have access. The erection of a gate is a matter for the owner of the land over which one has a right of way – and as long as it does not prevent the exercise of the right of way its size should not matter.

          1. Michael cambell says :

            Sorry John the original issue is I would like to open a gateway onto the lane way and an neighbor stopped us by standing in front of the machine saying he owned our ditch. This was just a ploy to stop are progress that day. We abandoned that day as it became an unsafe job. To be sure we checked our maps and half the lane is mapped to us, and the other side is mapped to a different neighbor. The neighbor that caused the hassle has no land till the end of the lane and has a right of way through the lane only. He then send a letter to say that there was no planning permission to open an entrance and he would be objecting to the entrance when the planning will be applied which it wont be.

            hope that makes sense

          2. John M. Lynch says :

            You would need to get the agreement of the neighbour who owns the other half in order to carry out any work on the laneway .I am not sure without more detail as to whether or not planning would apply . However, if there is an access / exit onto the other laneway , then the issue of permission should not arise . BUT I would need to see the full details to give a definitive answer.

  7. Margaret crowe says :Reply

    Dear john. We share a drive with a difficult neighbour . We bought the house from her parents who were reasonable . The drive goes through her property up a steep hill to our house. The surface washes away in the winter and needs regular maintenance. We paid for the last surfacing and left a note saying we would do it again as it is almost impassable . She said she wanted to consult a solicitor. That was two months ago and still no word. We need to get it done as there have been numerous minor incidents and cars have got stuck on it. What can we legally do?

    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply


      You have a right to repair and maintain the drive to enable you to exercise your right of way .

  8. Kathleen Dunne says :Reply

    Hi my brother who is a farmer approached his neighbour, also a farmer, about building a house a few years back, partly a courtesy call and also to see if any objections would be raised. The neighbour said he’d always expected it and it was fine. Relations between the two have always been good. However fast-forward five months and neighbour objected to the planning, it was passed by the county council, then appealed to An Bord Pleanala, again it was passed. Now his neighbour is trying to claim that he only ever gave him permission to use right of way and this was for agricultural purposes only. This right of way has been in our family for three generations. My brother’s land is landlocked and can only be accessed via this right of way – they suggest he can drive over fields – something that is impossible particularly in wet weather. My question is can the neighbour now restrict my brother’s right of eay to agricultural (allowing big machinery etc.) but refuse residential right of way or is it all and the same? No where in the land folios there a mention of rights of way.
    My brother is a young farmer with a son and currently they reside with my elderly parents. The whole thing has been so stressful. Any advice would be welcome and I imagine with the new Act on registering rights of way this is going to be common place!

    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply


      Indeed you are right, many of these potential disputes will need to be addressed sooner rather than later. The short answer to your question depends on what type of use the right of way has been subject to for those three generations. If I assume the land in question was used for agricultural purposes and therefore accessed via the right of way and that the neighbouring farmer set out this as one of his grounds to object to to the planning then the question is whether you can use it to access a house built with planning permission. My initial view would be that a right of way for agricultural purposes should include a right of way for access to the house. But the long and the short of it, is that your brother may be forced to make an application. This might, however, from a cost point of view, act as an incentive to resolve matters.

  9. Fergus says :Reply

    Hi John
    Thanks for an informative article. I’m in the process of buying a house halfway up a private (7 house) laneway where no one has registered a right of way. The vendor and Estate Agent are unfamiliar with the 2009 Act. The mortgage co won’t play ball as they are concerned re registration post 2021. If we pay cash we can apply for a mortgage once registered. Does registration, assuming the other landowners agree to grant right of way, take a long time?

    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply


      Thank you for the feedback. Has the owner of the land over which you have the right of way been contacted to consent to either signing a document confirming the right or to agreeing to consent to an application to register the right of way? The first option should be acceptable to a Lender and is the cheaper option.

  10. John Bennett says :Reply

    A neighbour has a right of way through my laneway to access a turfbank. Subsequently he bought another turfbank closeby. He has rented the turfbanks to a contractor who has also rented other banks nearby. The contractor has started cutting all these turfbanks together and is both drawing material to the banks and turf from all the banks through my laneway. However a right of way only existed to draw turf from the original turf bank not from all the other turf banks. What is the situation here. All of the banks have been amalgamated together now into one.

    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply


      My quick answer depends on how the right of way was created -by deed or over time! If by deed, the deed will determine the extent of the right of way. If over time ( by prescription) the usage will determine the extent of the right .

      It seems, from what you say , that the right as now exercised goes beyond the existing right.

      1. John Bennett says :Reply

        thank you for your reply John, each bank has a different deed but only one has a right of way through my land. However all the banks are now being accessed through my land as they have all been amalgamated but this has only happened in last 4 years. Thank you all the same for taking the time to reply to my query

        1. John M. Lynch says :Reply


          It is difficult to be definitive in responding to your situation without seeing all of the paperwork.

          However, as a matter of principle , a right of way exists by a dominant tenement over a servient tenement and , therefore, it should not be possible to use one servient tenement as a right of way for many dominant owners.

  11. Tanya Shoshan says :Reply

    Dear Mr Lynch,
    I have a short question concerning this topic. Someone has legally established the right of way via my private road (the only road that I can use to access my house), but makes use of my road with heavy trucks/machinery, which leads to destruction of the road structure so that I cannot walk, ride my bike or car on the road anymore. Moreover, he has repeatedly destroyed fencing etc. on the edge of the road. He refuses to contribute financially or directly to the constant repairs that I have to do in order to keep the road accessible for myself (I have suffered health damages as a result). (For instance, I once suffered from a head injury at home and had to walk down the road with the injury as the ambulance could not drive up to my house.) Is there a possibility to take legal action against the person that has the right of way?

    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

      The short answer : if you can establish that he has used the roadway in the manner that you suggest you should be able to claim a contribution to its upkeep ; furthermore, having a right of way does not entitle a person to cause damage to your property: thus giving you a further avenue of claim.

      1. Tanya Shoshan says :Reply

        Thank you very much Mr Lynch for your swift reply, that is what I suspected.
        Have a good day and best regards

  12. Paul C says :Reply

    I sold part of my land to a person ” in trust ” in 2006. I retained easements for services ( water , sewerage , electricity ) on the lands I sold and these services were to be provided by the purchaser at his expense . However this was not done despite continued promises to do so . The property has now been subdivided into two folios and on checking with the land registry I see that my rights of way for services are not registered . What recourse do I have to maintain my access to utility services through the sold lands .

    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

      If easements were retained and documented, then it should be possible to apply to register such easements in the property registration authority.

  13. philip says :Reply

    Hi john
    just a quick one, does a right of way that has existed for decades dissolve back into the original estate if a new entrance has been opened up for the property, even if the right of way is used on occasion when walking .
    thanks Phil

    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

      If a right-of-way is there, it is there unless extinguished – just because another one has been created does not extinguish the former

  14. Eileen FitzGerald says :Reply

    hi john………..and thank you for the very good article above and for the opportunity to ask my question……………

    i’ve just bought a little house the back garden of which i can access through the end house next door. My garden is the only property with use of this right of way. If I buy the end property next door, now up for sale, could i sell it with the right of way and could a purchaser then build, subject to planning permission, of course?

    thanks you again
    eileen fitz

    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

      Eileen, if the end property has a right-of-way you should be able to sell it with the benefit of the right way but this is something that would need to be checked on the purchase documents

  15. Cristina says :Reply

    Dear Mr Lynch,

    We bought a property 8 years ago and currently living in it, there is a right of way through this property into Coillte’s land (we are the last house of a cul de sac than ends in the forest). To our understanding there is only 2 people who have the right of way: our neighbour into his field opposite to our land and Coillte so they can use it to get timber out, because Coillte’s land is public, the right of way is use by everybody and I mean every person has the right to get through our land. Also various events take place like hill walkers, hunting, 2 massive bikes competitions, hill runners competitions, etc. We were just wondering how could we find out if the right of way is public or private and do you think it will make any difference to the volume of people and competitions that can take place because Coillte allows this.

    Also it took us 7 years to move the road few metres further from our front door now the County Council needs to dig for the water pipes, this will mean huge damage to our property: stone wall, road, etc but they say they are not responsible because we have moved the road without consulting them, but we waited 7 years plus solicitor fees to get permission from Coillte and our neighbour to move the road (the 2 people who appear to have the right of way).

    Thank you so much for all your help



    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

      Well, there is a lot in this. Again very hard to make any definitive observations without seeing all the paperwork. The fact that the public come over your property does not necessarily mean that it is a public right of way. You have to establish the history of the right-of-way and see whether or not the public had acquired a right. Maybe this is something you might email me about,with the paperwork, and I will have a look at it.

  16. thomas mcbride says :Reply

    Hi John
    I bought an old cottage on some land, refurbished it and lived in it while building a new bungalow. There was a right of way to the old cottage that the farmer used for generations from a road at the back of his cottage. We moved into the new build and sold the old cottage we also built a private road at the front of the cottage and our house which we gave a right of way to the person that we sold the old cottage too. The old cottage is now empty and is up for resale. My question is as there is an ancient existing right of way on the deeds can i revoke the right of way over my land as I breed horses and can i stop vehicles driving over the road i built.

    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

      Thomas, it is very difficult to answer your question without seeing the paperwork. If you sold the cottage with the right-of-way it may be a little bit late to attempt to extinguish the right away – a little bit like closing the gate after the horse has bolted!

      1. thomas mcbride says :Reply

        Thank you for your reply, yes the horse has bolted. If i buy back the cottage will i be able to extinguish the right of way i gave to the cottage as there would be no dispute only me involved. The ancient right of way would still be in existence in the deeds which i have no problem with.

        1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

          If you are the owner of a right of way , you should be able to extinguish it.

  17. Karol Sadleir says :Reply

    Hi John,

    We live in a terraced house and are considering letting out a granny flat in our garden. The only access we have in through the house however our next door neighbour has a side entrance to his house and we are wondering how to go about applying for access to our back garden using his side entrance. All advice would be very welcomed,

    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

      You would have to ask the neighbour for permission unless you already have a right of way.

      1. Declan says :Reply

        hi there
        I own a property in the centre of a small town. To the rear of the property is a small plot of land that is totally blocked in by surrounding properties apart from the rear that backs onto a small stream. 2 of my neighbor’s have rights of way through this site to access this stream. The stream is totally overgrown and the access has not been used for that purpose for years. The problem is that as I do not really use this land one of the neighbour’s has started leaving their kids play there ……am I right in saying they are only allowed pass through and not actually spend time on this site…. I am also considering putting up a gate….. thanks for your help

        1. Declan, if you own the land , you can usually put up a gat as long as it does not restrict the rights of way .

  18. Joanna C says :Reply

    Hello John,
    Very interesting thread.
    We live in our house, what can only be discribed as what was somebodies back garden. The only way into our property is through an entry. The property in front of us was orignally a row of cottages, and a partition wall was build to make the entry. I have a copy of the Conveyance with map for the right of way, (which has been in effect for approx 100years) It would appear from the Conveyance that the right of way is not owned by the people who live in the cottage, but somebody who lived down the road, whom I believe has since died. How would one go about finding out who actually owns the right of way? Also the people who have now moved into the cottage have an extractor fan in the entry and whenever we walk through the entry, the smell of food is constant,the grease the extractor fan is throwing out has gone up on the ceiling and is very unsightly. Thanks in advance

    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

      To find out who owns a right of way , you would usually start by looking at the title documents – after that you would check with the owners .

      Food smells may come under nuisance or pollution control – a bit outside my expertise !

      1. Apryll says :Reply

        The right of way is open in more than 40 years and now the owner suddenly blocked the road where we walk. And he said that the rigjt of way is gor them only what should i do.?

        1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

          If you can prove that you have used it as a right of way for over 12 years you can make application for a formal grant of right of way.

  19. Trevor Campell says :Reply

    Hi John,

    Recently a man in ownership of fishing rights attached to land adjacent to our property has begun trying to claim right of way access through our land. His family have sporadically used a different access path many years ago but not for >50 years and never him personally. The claimed right of way is not registered anywhere. He also wishes to give other parties full access under the same rights. I was just wondering if he does indeed have a claim to these rights and if he is allowed grant access to 3rd parties if so? Hope you can help.

    Kind Regards,

    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

      You would need to do a search to see who the owners are and you could also check with neighbours or former owners about the use.

      The issue here is whether or not there is a right of way , and if there is , has it been abandoned.

      You cannot grant a right of way to third parties unless they were entitled to the use of your right of way.

      It is hard to be more precise without all the information .

  20. T Bell says :Reply

    A Friend of mine has a right of way problem ,he agreed to a right of way done the side of his house many years ago the person he made the agreement with has since died.does the agreement pass on to his children.?? Who have now sold the house,but they charge the new owner for the right of way agreement can they do this and should the third party be told about the new owner before the sale went through.

    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

      If it is a legally binding right of way it would normally inure to the benefit of any new owner.

      1. T Bell says :Reply

        Thank you for your reply, this right of way was made before my friend bought the plot of land to build his house,the right of way runs just three feet from his back door,and right through his back garden,with complete loss of privacy, the last owner who had title used it a few time over the years but it has not been used for some ten years, do we any redress through lack of uses.the title was sold to the new owners for a bill of sale,and not inheirited by deed can we use the two point to block the said right of way is there any other avenue we can go down to close this right of way??

        1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

          I am unsure how one could argue that the manner by which the property was purchased could have a bearing on the existence of the right of way .

      2. T Bell says :Reply

        Thank you for your reply, this right of way was made before my friend bought the plot of land to build his house,the right of way runs just three feet from his back door,and right through his back garden,with complete loss of privacy, the last owner who had title used it a few time over the years but it has not been used for some ten years, do we any redress through lack of uses.This any other way to try and get this right of way closed.

        1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

          It is open to you to argue that the right of way has been abandoned through lack of use – however this is a matter of evidence.

  21. gene says :Reply

    Hi there
    i bought a old town house that i rent out since 2007
    the only access i have to get to my back garden is through my neighbours back yard
    there is a gate into my yard so it is clear that this was agreed way back
    could be 20-30 years
    the house is currently for sale and i rang the auctioneer informing him of the right of way. he told me if i don’t have it in writing that it doesn’t exist
    obviously if the new owners buy they will want to do up the house as it is falling down
    what should i do
    the auctioneer clearly wont tell any prospective buyers as to not put them off purchasing the property

    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

      There is no doubt but that a written right of way is by far the strongest evidence of the existence of a right of way. However if you have been using this as a right of way without objection and with the knowledge of the owner for the last 20 years then you should be able to formally register a right of way. I would suggest writing to the owners/neighbours asking to confirm that right of way and then going about registering it.

  22. sharon says :Reply

    Hi John
    Can you help? There is a right of way owned by local council inbetween two rows of terraced houses. I live at the end of one of these rows so the right of way runs parrallel with my house/[email protected] years ago i asked the council to put in place some bollards to stop people coming up and down with quadbikes. At the other side of the ROW the house is owned by the council and around 4 years ago new tenants moved in. They proceeded to build a garage in their back garden (without any permission from the council) with double doors facing onto the ROW. The bollards were removed and they started to concrete the ROW to make it easier to bring vehicles up into this garage (namely rally cars). This garage is @25ft from my living room and causes noise disturbance and also a lack of privacy from the upstairs of my property as the doors of the garage are open with cars/tools etc brought out onto the Row and i basically have an audience outside my bedroom window.For over 3 years now i have been in contact with the council regarding this matter the council have ‘asked’ them to return the bollards and apply for permission for garage this was one year ago. Todate nothing has been done. Where do i find out about laws re building/access via right of ways? any help would be appreciated.

    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

      It seems to me that you should consult your solicitor who could take the matter up with the local council.

  23. L Collins says :Reply

    Hi John
    I am considering purchasing an industrial Unit. There seems to be an issue with right of way. there are several units in the group. would there not be an automatic entitlement to right of way into an industrial area?


    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

      You would usually expect that right of way and other easements should have been covered in the development of industrial units.

  24. Paul says :Reply

    Hi my neighbour recently sold a piece of land where the only access is through the private road my family owns. The neighbour has a right of way through this road as she has other land beyond our private road.
    Does the new owner get a right of way through our private road even though the neighbour still has right of way to her other land?

    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

      In a nutshell , yes. If it is a valid right of way it passes with the land to the new owner.

  25. nicholas says :Reply

    we have a right of way named in the registered title to our house, and this serves our terrace of 6 for shared access to rear gardens from main road. I want to alter it and presume I should seek the express permission of the owner – except no one knows who the current owner of the land is and it is not specifically registered.
    In the absence of finding the owner, how can I acquire the land to carry out improvements?

    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

      Correct , you need to consent of the owner to alter a right of way .In the absence of finding the owner you will carry out the works at your own risk. However , if it is an improvement as you say , will the unknown owner object!

  26. Brian Mcareavey says :Reply

    Hi John,

    Myself and another neighbour have a right of way over a laneway belonging to another property owner. What is the legal position on repair and maintenance of that laneway and also, if costs are shared, is public liability also shared?

    With many thanks.

    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

      The usual position is that when you have a right of way you also have the right to repair (as opposed to the obligation). On the issue of public liability where the right of way provides access to property you own , you should insure .

  27. Michael Doyle says :Reply

    Hi John.
    My father often allowed a neighbouring farmer whom he was friendly with pass through one of our fields so the neighbour could access some of his land. The two were good buddies and even though the neighbour had a registered right of way in at another point this way was quicker and so there was no issue. I now own my father’s land and the friendly neighbour’s land was sold after he passed. The new owner is claiming right of way. Can he do this?

    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

      It depends on a number of factors – but you would need to give me a bit more detail . The short answer might be – if it is deemed to be a license rather than a right the claim will not succeed. Furthermore , claiming it as a right does not make it a right. Is your father still alive to give evidence on it.

      1. Michael Doyle says :Reply

        Thanks for your swift response. No he’s not unfortunately. The field that my new neighbour is claiming a right of way into is very rough ground. Unsuitable for most types of farming. He hasn’t farmed the field in fifteen years. But he wants access now and started using the supposed right without permission last year. I approached him and asked him not to use my field and informed him (of what he already knew) of his registered right of way to the dominant land. I’ve a feeling he wants this right as a means to get one over on me rather than for necessity. I locked my gate last year shortly after things went south.

        1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

          He is the one that has to prove that he has a right – so if he persists he will have to make an application. It would do you no harm to formally write to him to deny the right.

  28. caroline says :Reply

    There is a lane behind my house which I use to access my garage. How do I find out who owns this lane? Also to access the lane I need to drive onto a commercial property. How do I find out who owns the stretch of road used to access the lane and if there is a right of way attached? The owners of the commercial property are in the process of narrowing this road which is making it difficult to gain access to the lane. How do I find out what the width should be? I have checked landdirect and the commercial property and access road is showing as not registered?

    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

      I would need to see all the paperwork and the location before giving a definitive answer. But without seeing either the paperwork or the physical location, the answer is usually a combination of seeing what you can find from the paperwork, making enquiries locally and making various searches – e.g. the valuation office, the rates office , the Property Registration Authority .

  29. Graham Jeffrey says :Reply

    We are looking at purchasing a property at auction 25 02 2016 however the property is land locked. There was a deed to cross the farmers land dated 1911, via a joint track i.e. for use both to get to each property however, the farmer applied to move the driveway without informing the property owner in 1995, this was allowed in a planning application and the old track was closed off. The property we are interested in from what we can find out never objected to the closurer. What is the best way forward to try and resurrect the access via the old deed or to apply for a new right of way to the property?

    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

      I would need to know a little bit more before giving a definitive answer – but if the historical right-of-way has been abandoned, the easiest answer would be to look for a further and formal grant of right-of-way.

  30. M Burke says :Reply

    If a person who has right to access a right of way gets injured whilst using right of way is the landowner open to be sued???

    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

      If you mean someone other than the person who was granted the right of way, the owner and occupier of the right-of-way may very well have a liability and could be sued. Accordingly, it is always good practice to take out insurance as both the owner of the land and user of a right-of-way

  31. Donal says :Reply

    Hi John ,
    Good to see this article
    A query for you .
    We visit an old Mill on a river near our house via a lane off the Public Road. The lands bounding the access lane are owned by a quarry and by a farmer on either side. A house at the end of the lane was bought by the quarry and demolished and the quarry are moving spoil slowly into the lane that serves the Mill and river beyond
    No one else uses the lane apart from Fishermen in summer .
    Has the Farmer or Quarry the right to block the lane in any way ,Even if either of them own it Which we speculate that the quarry has. Have the people in general a right to have this lane open as they would all have used it for decades by foot.
    Can they remove the right of way ,



    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

      The quickest answer to your question – is that someone cannot remove a right-of-way without the agreement of the owner of such right, on the understanding that such right is in fact a right-of-way in law.

  32. Brian says :Reply

    Hi John,
    A small area of my property edges part of the right of way which has been granted to my neighbour but does not form part of the right of way. The area is big enough for me to keep my bins and sometimes park my car there. So my neighbour would have to drive past it to access his property, which is no problem.

    He recently asked could I tidy that area as he had to look at it. I have no money to do anything with it but it may be that he funds the works to it.

    If I allow him to pay, does that give him a right on it?

    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

      If you own it and he is happy to pay for it to be tidied , I cannot see how that would give him any proprietary rights.

  33. Brian says :Reply

    Thank you John.

  34. My mother recently purchased some land. People had permission by the previous owners (that owned the land for 30 years) to walk on the land. The local parish council are processing a right of way application by local residents concerning this period of over 20 years useage. Should she continue to let people use the land?

    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

      If the local parish council are successful in establishing the right of way , she will not have the option to prevent people walking over the land. Presumably she will be served with notice of the application and can make her objections known.

  35. Barry white says :Reply

    Hi john
    My neighbor has a right of way to his house though my farm the lane way goes past his house, he is now causing trouble when we pass our cows up the lane past his house saying they are making the place dirty ! We could use a field to get them to the land where they are grazing but it will do damage to the field as the cows are dairy and are milked twice a day. I own all the land around his house and have a ROW to the field am I right by law to use the lane for access to my land for my cows ?
    Barry White

    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

      If you own the lane you can , if you in turn have a right of way , it depends on the nature and extend of the use over the years.

  36. willim flemming says :Reply

    the county council purchased a piece of land from my mother and it specified for use as a quarry. does this mean that it reverts to my mother when this quarry use is discontinued.


    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

      If the County Council bought the land , then it is unlikely that it will revert to your mother.

  37. Claire says :Reply

    Hi John,

    A friend has signed over access and right of way on her property to her sister.
    The land belonged to their parents, her sister owns the house, and my friend owns a derelict schoolhouse right next to it. There is only one gate which she signed over as right of way to enter the house.
    The house is occupied by her sister, but now her sister has put up scaffolding at the schoolhouse, as well as a dog run around it, and put a new lock on the schoolhouse door.
    My friend now wants to sell the schoolhouse, what are her rights here, if she has granted access to her sister?

    Thanks for your help!

    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

      If she has a written grant of right-of-way there should be no difficulty.

  38. Mark Manning says :Reply

    Great article John,

    Could you advise here:

    We are a residents committee comprising of 20 or so terraced houses.There is a cul de sac at the end with a gate leading to a laneway.For years nothing was on the other side and the gate was locked.

    Before I say anything else, according to the county council we have right of way.
    A few years back a house was built at the top of the laneway and suddenly the lock was removed.This suited the property owner for pedestrian access of family and friends(who parked in our estate) ALSO they dragged their wheelie bins into our estate for convenience.Worse, word spread among office workers and what once was a quiet area has turned into a thoroughfare of 60 workers back and forth.We’ve also dog foul and have a go carparkers.The residents agreed to lock the gate….but the house owner keeps removing the locks by force.

    Any advice would be welcome 🙂

  39. dani says :Reply

    hello, i was wondering if you could give me some advice.

    the previous tenant who lived in my house had access into the garage and driveway(which are located in our back garden) for years by driving down the side of our property and into the garden. It has a drop curb from the road, it also has a public footpath sign and a concrete bollard just past my garage on the footpath running behind my house into a field. In the time it took for us to move in someone has put a small metal bollard up at the drop curb to stop us being able to access our garage. Even on google maps you can see the previous tenant had parked on it (which we wouldn’t do). We asked the neighbours who it belongs to and why its up, they all tell us it’s each others so we still don’t know who put it up and the reason why its up is because they don’t want people parking on there. Do we still have right to access this? could we legally removed the bollard? my neighbor has been using it to park vans on whilst she is having her extension built but always puts the bollard back up saying she has permission but yet we don’t know from who as it says public footpath. Also we had a council warden come round to make sure she wasn’t fly tipping down the side of our house and he asked us if we had put the bollard up and when we told him no said but isn’t that access to your garage. sorry this is a bit long, i’m not too good at explaining things but i hope i’ve explained enough.

    Thank you

    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

      If you are a tenant or an owner ? If your landlord can confirm a legal right of access ,then you should be able to seek to use the access .

      1. Melody says :Reply

        We are the current owners of the property and have just put the property on the real estate market. We want to know what the people, who have the deeded ROW can do to the land that is in this ROW. The ROW has never been accessed in the 20+ years that it’s been in the deed. Potential buyers of our property are asking if the trees in the ROW can be cut, since half of it is forest, or if a driveway/road can be put in, that would completely alter the existing property, the other half of the ROW is lawn. Side note: the land that this ROW accesses is accessible from many areas-it’s not land locked.

        1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

          The Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2009 allows for an automatic statutory extinguishment of unregistered rights-of-way acquired by prescription or by implication on the expiry of a 12 year continuous period of non-user. This does not apply to a right-of-way granted by deed where there would have to be an intention to abandon the right-of-way.

  40. Derek says :Reply

    Hi John,

    My new neighbour has been accessing a parking space at the front of their property via my drop curb and by driving across my drive while they have a skip for renovations placed temporarily blocking access via their drop curb to their parking space. The previous owner rented the property to a tenant who for 2.5years never once used my drive to access the parking space. Similarly the tenant before that did not access their parking across my property. I intend to erect a low fence to stop the new neighbour continuing this practise of using my land to access parking on their land. Is it possible the new owner can claim a right of way by right of prescription earned by the previous owner/landlord before renting out the property? And/or is the fact that none of the recent tenants have since 2007 driven over my drive by way of access to the neighbour’s parking space enough to mean any possible right of way earned by perscription has long been abandoned? Also is the fact that once the skip has been moved the neighbour can access directly their own land without passing over my drive enough to allow me to erect a low fence regardless?


    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

      The quick answer is that unless this right away has been exercised for a period of 12 years then you can direct your fence. If there is a question of abandonment there must be an intention to abandon.

  41. Melody says :Reply

    We are selling our home that has a deeded ROW clearly defined by width along the propetrty line, in the deed. Our question is use, this ROW has never been accessed in the twenty plus years it’s, the person with the deeded ROW has only informed us that they have they in fact have a ROW., but again, the ROW has never been used. We have informed the realtor if this ROW. Our question is this, what can the people with the deeded ROWdo to the land defined? Currently half the defined ROW is forest, the other half has always been part of the lawn. There’s nothing that’s states what the right of way “might” be used for. Potential owners are asking if the trees could be cut down, or a drive put in

  42. CJ2362 says :Reply

    Good Evening,

    Such an informative page and a very interesting read.

    My cousin is the owner of some agricultural land which he rents to a local farmer. There are three houses on the property with a registered right of way for access to each of them. The farmer on ocassion has cattle in the fields which take shelter and wander into the lane as it is not nor has it ever been fenced off. The aforementioned situations and agreements have been in situ for some 15/25 years. Over the years, one of the parties with a right of way made some grumbles about the cattle in the lane however, have never contributed to the upkeep of the lane some 1km in length, which I believe they are not obliged to do. In any event, my cousin received a letter requesting the cattle be kept off the lane as they are all of a sudden posing a threat/inconvenience!! In all honesty the farmer may have them grazing 4/6 weeks a year and none of the other property

  43. CJ2362 says :Reply

    Apologies I clicked submit in etror!

    None of the other property owners have complained and are happy with the current position. In reality the disruption is minimal.

    Can the complainant take any form of legal action which might be successful?

    Should my cousin give in to their demands then it is highly likely that the farmer will no longer wish to lease the land leaving him in a vulnerable financial position.

    I would hope that all of the above points to a favourable outcome should the claimant progress maters.

    Thank you in advance and I look forward to hearing from you with interest.

    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

      This is a very interesting question if I understand it correctly – your cousin owns the land over which a number of people have a right-of-way. He has also rented land to a local farmer whose cattle can access this unfenced right-of-way. Can the owner of the right-of-way complain about the cattle? The short answer without going into all of the details is that he would have to prove that the cattle interfere with his use of the right-of-way.

  44. Godfrey Dee says :Reply

    hello Mr Lynch

    Our neighbour has a tarmac parking apron in front of his building that widens the public pavement ( 3ft 6 inches)for a length of about 40 feet where is then joins and matches the formal public pavement width. For 80 years the public have walked over the tarmac apron without any interference by the owner of it.

    Can you act for us to register the apron as a public right of way? If so what are the likely costs? Please e-mail me

  45. John Stevens says :Reply


    I am looking for some advice, we own a private right of way in the town area and have let our neighbor use it for the last 20-30 odd years, they mainly just used it once on a Sunday or twice on a Saturday, and if it was anytime during the week it would be an odd occurrence. We never really had any issue over the last 20-30 years but lately the they have unknown people accessing it everyday (and they have permission from our neighbor), either to do small jobs for them or just to park in their yard. They would enter and exit the right of way multiple times a day, everyday of the week. We have an adjacent business to this right of way and would like to limit or deny future access to the right of way.

    It might seem extreme but the people accessing the right of way now are not as friendly as our neighbor and have verbally abused people that have marginally block the laneway. At what stage might they be in breach of the right of way? The sad thing is we have never had any problems with this for generations but our neighbor is old now and won’t listen to reason.

    Background on the right of way, the right of way gives them access to the back of their yard and it is the only entrance for them to drive a car into.They have access to the front of the building from the street, but only use our lane-way to park their car.

    My ideal outcome would be to reason with my neighbor, but i suspect his mind is now changed by others and his health is not the greatest at the moment, my greatest fear is that these people will keep accessing the right of way in the future causing us unnecessary hassle, i would like to know what would make them in breach of the law and over time i might gather evidence to prove that they breaking the law.

    John S.

    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

      I am unsure as to whether you own a right-of-way or your own the land over which a neighbour has a right-of-way. If you own the land then the question is whether or not you are have granted your neighbour a right-of-way; if you do not own the land then you cannot grant a right-of-way over a right-of-way. If you want to email me at [email protected] I can take the matter further.

  46. A. Martin says :Reply

    Does a right of way need to be registered on the land folios of both the dominant and serviant tenements?

  47. Alan Martin says :Reply

    Hi. Does a right of way need to be registered on both the folios of the dominant and servient tenements?

    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

      There is no obligation to register presently, so if there is a former grant of right-of-way in writing that should suffice. There is a difficulty however insofar as a subsequent owner may not be bound by right-of-way which is not registered.

  48. Dave L says :Reply

    We have been given a site by my grandfather. My Aunt was given his original house and the only way to access our site is through the driveway adjacent to her house, by mistake the right of way was signed over with the original house. There is an old letter from my grandfather to his solicitor staing this was not his intention but nothing was ever done about the letter or rectifying the error. He wanted each site to have access. My aunt is refusing to grant me right of way, is there anything I can do?

    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

      It is difficult to make a comment on this without seeing the paperwork. As I understand it the ground over which access could be exercised was included in the transfer of the house to your aunt. The question that arises is whether or not there was a formal grant of right-of-way or whether it was simply an access route to the site. Is it the case that your grandfather intended to grant a right-of-way and did not do so. If this is the case and if there is no formal grant right-of-way then the only way to establish a right-of-way without the agreement of your aunt is to prove that you acquired one by prescription over 12 years.

  49. Emmett Delaney says :Reply

    Hi John. Another sticky one! There is 13 ac. of woodland behind our house which cannot be accessed from road. It is in my wife’s name as is her Aunts property and house which we are built onto. About 25/30 years back, my wife’s Grandfather sold a site beside us to a man who built his house on it. Now sandwiched in between us and the neighbor is a little plot of land with a mobile home belonging to my wife’s Aunt and Uncle who have since passed.
    In turn, between this plot and the neighbor was a 12 ft. right of way providing access from the road to both mobile and the woodland.
    Unfortunately my wife’s uncle became ill a good few years back and the mobile was used less and less, something the neighbor took advantage of progressively. Firstly by extending his fence and pier across the r.o.w. entrance and by sowing shrubbery in the r.o.w. to fill it in. We were informed at the time by him that the r.o.w is not on any map and if wanted we had to buy it from him. We took it then that was that. Now upon reading some cases here I’m starting to wonder.
    Both mobile and wood are now landlocked apart from access through our tarmac driveway then along a grass pathway. The wood however cannot be accessed by any machinery without us tearing through our garden.
    Any help appreciated. Thanks. (I have also enclosed a file of the area)

    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

      You would have to check the title of the various owners to see whether or not there is, in fact, a right-of-way. It may also be that there is a right-of-way by prescription which would have to be established by proof over the required 12 years. You would also have to be satisfied that it was not abandoned.

  50. Rosemary says :Reply

    I wonder can you clarify for me can the first paragraph of Form 67 be changed. I am giving a right of way over a laneway to a neighbour but I feel the wording of the first paragraph is very submissive. Also as the neighbour does not reside on the property and may sell it at a later date I want to put in strict terms and conditions. What should these be? Is it definitely the case that I am required by law to sign a document giving a right of way and if I do sign it can I object to having this registered as a burden on my folio.
    Many thanks

    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

      The short answer is that the land Registry forms follow a specific format and if you fail to follow this format it would affect the ability to register. The paragraph can be amended to restrict the right-of-way but not to the extent that it creates something other than a right-of-way – such as a licence.

  51. Chris says :Reply

    Hi John,
    14 years ago my father sold 12 acres of agricultural land to a property developer who had planned to build housing estates and bought a neighbours land behind ours. with the property bust the developer never built on the land and we bought back our 12 acres at a cheaper price than we sold. Anyways we just received the property registration today in the post, however when reading through it we saw that the neighbour now has an unspecified right of way through our land now which he never had before, is this allowed? we clearly specified to our solicitor and the auctioneer that we were not open to anyone having right of ways through the land. The neighbour doesn’t require it as he has access from his own side already and there are no roads in the field we bought as half is marshy land. is there anything we can so, as you can imagine we are extremely unhappy.
    With thanks.

    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

      When you bought back the land part of your investigation of title should have disclosed any right-of-way on the folio. I would have to see the paperwork to make any further comment.

  52. John Lynch says :Reply

    There are a number of articles on right of way on the site – if you want to search for rights of way using the search bar at the to or select the category : “Property Services.”

  53. Liz says :Reply

    Hi John,

    We live down a rural boreen where each house on the lane owns half of the lane along the boundary to our respective houses. Our neighbours are lovely and reasonable but one of them has a tenant who for a plethora of reasons they cannot remove but we would like to deny access over our part of the lane. The lane itself is more than 100 years old (visible in OS 1st Edition Mapping). When we purchased the house I do not believe a right of way had been registered, but it is accepted by all the residents. Can I deny access across our portfolio to my neighbour’s tenants? As I understand it I couldn’t deny access to the owners (nor would I want to – ?Right of Necessity). The tenants have been living there for three years and we bought this house in February of this year, unaware of the problems. If I was able to deny right of way across our portion of the land that would mean they would not have vehicular access but could access their property on foot across their landlords land.

    1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

      I am assuming that this is a right of way by prescription – acquired over time. The right of way can be exercised by the neighbour, his servants or agents or tenants with his consent . So if the tenant has the consent of the owner and has a valid tenancy , you cannot obstruct his use of the right of way.

      1. Liz says :Reply

        Thank you very much for the clarity.

        Kind regards,


        1. John M. Lynch says :Reply

          I appreciate you taking the time to post a Thanks.