Land sales are starting to be affected by landowners’ failure to register their rights of way, according to a solicitor who specialises in this area.

“I experience reluctance in banks lending money for land to which there is a right of way that is not registered,” says Karen Walsh.

“That means that if you have land for sale with a right of way that is not registered, a potential buyer may not be able to get a mortgage. That could decrease the value of your land.”

The issue is becoming more important because there is a deadline of 1 December 2021 for registering right of ways under the current – but outgoing – system. After that date, the process could be more complex.

The laws changed in legislation drawn up in 2009 which required private rights of way to be registered on a landowner's legal title by 30 November 2012.

Lobbying by farm organisations saw this deadline extended to 30 November 2021.

Everyone should register a right of way that they are entitled to use, before this deadline

However, some landowners have still not registered their rights of way, Karen Walsh says.

“Everyone should register a right of way that they are entitled to use, before this deadline.”

The process involves approaching the neighbouring landowner and explaining that you want to formalise the right of way. You ask that neighbour to sign a deed of right of way.

Normally, the person seeking to register the right of way will offer to pay the legal costs of the other party.

“If you don’t’ have a right of way registered before 1 December, or have not got court proceedings under way to have it registered, then you will be in a weaker position,” Walsh says.

“There is greater risk of the cycle of use of the right of way being broken and, after the deadline, some of the previous use may be disregarded.”

Statutory declaration

Banks used to accept a statutory declaration of a right of way when purchasers were seeking funds to buy farmland, she says. “Now they won’t.”

She specialises in property and agricultural law and operates, in Dublin and Cork, as Karen Walsh Solicitor.