Irish Property Laws

Irish property law and rules are very similar to those in the United Kingdom.  The degree of protection is at least as strong as that in the United Kingdom and to some extent stronger again. Property rights are strongly protected by the Constitution.

Laws which are contrary to the Constitution are invalid. Government action whether procedurally or substantively contrary to the Constitution is invalid. The issue of unconstitutionality can be raised in any case where the issue arises in the higher courts.

The taking of property for public purposes must be strictly justified and compensation is payable. The principles of property law in Ireland are based on the same common law and equitable principles as apply in England and Wales and Northern Ireland. The statutory reforms have been very similar. Much of the legislation is identical or has the same effect.

Types of Ownership

The two broad types of ownership in England and Wales and Northern Ireland, the freehold estate and the leasehold estate apply equally in Ireland. The freehold estate is tantamount to full ownership subject only to general common law and statutory provisions such as planning law, building regulation, public health legislation et cetera, which itself is very similar to that in the United Kingdom.

Businesses commonly purchase property for a freehold estate. As in the United Kingdom, proof of ownership was formerly based on possession of the deeds of the property under which it was purchased. In the same way as the UK, there is an almost identical system of land registration by which most title is now registered in the Land Registry by way of a state-guaranteed title. The structure of the Land Registry the organisation of titles and the principles of registration and state compensation for errors are almost identical to those applying in England and Wales and Northern Ireland.

The types of interest in and rights that affect land in Ireland are almost identical to those that apply in England and Wales and Northern Ireland. The law in relation to easements, tenancies and covenants which can affect land is in very similar terms. The law on mortgages and charges is substantially the same.

Process of Purchase

The process for the property purchase of property in Irelan is broadly similar to that in the UK. Typically heads of agreement are agreed in principle through an estate agent, auctioneer or other firms of surveyors. The seller solicitor then issues draft contracts to the buyer’s solicitor.

Both the title and legal issues such as planning building regulation and other compliance.

are investigated. The same principle of buyer beware applies in Ireland so that a physical survey and examination from the perspective of structural integrity and physical suitability is a practical necessity.

Ultimately if buyer and seller are happy to proceed there is typically a binding contract for a short period of weeks followed by completion at which possession is usually handed over in return for the price.

Purchase Finance

If necessary, the purchase of property may be financed in part by a mortgage or charge on the title to the property. The banking system and mortgage practice are similar reflecting that many institutions have a presence in both jurisdictions.

AIB, Bank of Ireland and the Institute of Bankers in common with other financial professional bodies are all Ireland bodies so that the essential principles and practice of commercial mortgage and loan finance are very similar. The standard loan agreements, facilities and the contractual terms of the charge documents are almost identical in the two jurisdictions.

Where property is purchased by mortgage finance the lender will usually appoint a solicitor to act in its interests. The lender’s solicitor will take a more cautious view of any disclosed risks and issues with the property. It will prepare the mortgage and security documentation which are typically executed and signed simultaneously with the purchase.