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Using Common Ground

Would I have any rights to use common ground lane, running across between the back of my house and the back of another terrace?

The answer to this listener’s question depends on the nature of the lane and whatever right of way governs its use.  In law you can have private restricted right of way serving a number of properties and others can be excluded from that.  Otherwise, you can also have a public right of way and a public right of way can be acquired over a number of years over any land, including a private right of way. 

 

The general rule is that if a piece of land (including this laneway) has been used by the public as a right of way for more than twelve years then it can become a public right of way.

 

If this listener has intentions to use the common ground for other purposes, such as extending his or her garden, that may be another matter entirely and may raise some law suits by other neighbours against this.  This listener should take his or her title deeds to their solicitor to discuss this aspect.

 

To give an example of how public rights of way can arise and can be blocked, Rockwell College in County Tipperary has a "public road" running through it but it is privately owned by the college.  Every Christmas Day they close the road to assert their right of ownership so that a twelve-year period will never arise which will allow the establishment of a public right of way.

 

One the other hand, we have the dispute in the courts at the moment with Lissadell House in which it is alleged that some paths and lanes have been used by the public for a very long period of time.  There is no court decision handed down in that yet.

The issues raised in the answer to this NewsTalk listener's question are dealt with in a general way as can only be the case on live radio. Before relying on the advice given in this answer, whether you heard the broadcast or are for the first time reading the issues here please do not rely on the broad advice given. For a detailed professional opinion please consult a qualified legal advisor and for further details read our disclaimer on the Home Page.

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