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The Irish Times - Thursday - Property - - Advice -

QWe live in a small ter­raced house on a quiet road. For the past 10 years or so the ad­join­ing house has been derelict. We sus­pect the owner may be in a home and un­able to main­tain it. It was up for sale a num­ber of years back but never sold, and de­spite us con­tact­ing the es­tate agent to con­tact the present owner noth­ing has been forth­com­ing.

I have been forced to paint the front of the prop­erty at my own ex­pense as it be­came a real eye­sore.

I also cut the front gar­den and keep it tidy.

The rear gar­den is over­grown, and is now at­tract­ing rats. Also, as the rear ac­cess has now be­come ex­posed we are wor­ried it may at­tract squat­ters.

I con­tacted the lo­cal coun­cil but it main­tains there is noth­ing it can do as it is a pri­vate prop­erty.

What are my op­tions?

AEach lo­cal au­thor­ity is re­spon­si­ble for deal­ing with derelict sites in its area and must keep a reg­is­ter of them. The prop­erty you de­scribe does ap­pear to come within the def­i­ni­tion of a derelict site un­der sec­tion 3 of the Act.

The lo­cal au­thor­ity has a right to ul­ti­mately force pri­vate own­ers to sell derelict sites to it, and al­though these pow­ers were very rarely ex­e­cuted in the past this does seem to be chang­ing due to the cur­rent hous­ing cri­sis.

In ad­di­tion, the Re­pair and Leas­ing Scheme is now in place. This is part of Re­build­ing Ire­land, and its pur­pose is to help prop­erty own­ers bring va­cant prop­er­ties into use.

The scheme pays for re­pairs up­front in re­turn for the prop­erty be­ing leased to a lo­cal au­thor­ity or ap­proved hous­ing body to be used as so­cial hous­ing for a pe­riod of at least 10 years. How­ever, this scheme is only avail­able to prop­erty own­ers, and I do ap­pre­ci­ate you have no con­tact with the owner in or­der to en­cour­age them to avail of the scheme.

I would rec­om­mend that you con­tact your lo­cal au­thor­ity to ask it to deal with the mat­ter as the prop­erty is a derelict site. You may be able to con­tact your lo­cal coun­cil­lors in this re­gard to see if they might be able to as­sist.

In re­la­tion to the rat is­sue, the en­vi­ron­men­tal health of­fi­cer does have cer­tain pow­ers in re­la­tion to pest con­trol but the re­spon­si­bil­ity does rest pri­mar­ily with the per­son oc­cu­py­ing the prop­erty. The con­tact de­tails for your lo­cal en­vi­ron­men­tal health of­fi­cer are avail­able on the web­site of the HSE. An­swered by Suzanne Bain­ton, solic­i­tor at Lis­ton & Com­pany

Ql re­cently built a garage to the rear of my prop­erty. Since then the lo­cal au­thor­ity has stip­u­lated that I need to con­nect the run-off wa­ter into a wa­ter pipe that goes in front of our site. Our neigh­bours are not happy, and said that we can­not do this be­cause the pipe goes un­der a piece of grass that they main­tain [it is the bit be­tween their hedge and the pub­lic road]. I would rather not have a lengthy le­gal bat­tle with them but equally I have to drain the wa­ter from the yard area around the shed or my yard will flood. Can they stop me ac­cess­ing the pipe as that lies out­side of our hedges at the front of our prop­er­ties?

AYou in­di­cate that the ex­ist­ing pipe lies out­side of your hedges at the front of your prop­er­ties. It ap­pears that the hedges form the bound­aries be­tween your re­spec­tive prop­er­ties and the pub­lic road, and that this is a stan­dard si­t­u­a­tion where the pipe, which is a sur­face (storm) wa­ter sewer, runs un­der the foot­path or grass verge out­side your prop­er­ties.

The grass verge and foot­path are part of the pub­lic road, and would, there­fore, be in the charge of the lo­cal au­thor­ity. The sur­face wa­ter sewer con­tained in the pub­lic road is likely to be also in the charge of the lo­cal au­thor­ity. If it is a com­bined sewer, ie drain­ing sur­face wa­ter and waste wa­ter, you will need to ver­ify if Ir­ish Wa­ter is the re­spon­si­ble au­thor­ity.

There is no rea­son why you can­not con­nect your sur­face wa­ter drainage di­rectly to the pub­lic sur­face wa­ter sewer sub­ject to the re­quired lo­cal au­thor­ity per­mits and con­di­tions. The main­te­nance by your neigh­bour of a piece of grass that is in the charge of the lo­cal au­thor­ity does not give your neigh­bour rights over it.

You should first check with the lo­cal au­thor­ity to de­ter­mine the pre­cise ex­tent of the pub­lic road that is in its charge. If it

Send your queries to prop­er­tyques­tions@irish­times.com

or to Prop­erty Clinic, The Ir­ish Times, 24-28 Tara Street, Dublin 2. This col­umn is a read­ers’ ser­vice. The con­tent of the Prop­erty Clinic is pro­vided for gen­eral in­for­ma­tion only. It is not in­tended as ad­vice on which read­ers should rely. Pro­fes­sional or spe­cial­ist ad­vice should be ob­tained be­fore per­sons take or re­frain from any ac­tion on the ba­sis of the con­tent. tran­spires that the strip of grass is not part of the pub­lic road and not in the charge of the lo­cal au­thor­ity, you may be able to de­ter­mine its own­er­ship by con­sult­ing the Land Reg­istry or its web­site Land­di­rect.ie.

It is pos­si­ble that it may still be in the own­er­ship of the de­vel­oper or orig­i­nal landowner.

If it’s not reg­is­tered its own­er­ship will be more dif­fi­cult to de­ter­mine. In such case you should con­sult your solic­i­tor who may en­gage a le­gal searcher.

It is prefer­able, how­ever, that you avoid in­volve­ment with a third party if pos­si­ble by rout­ing the pipe from your prop­erty di­rectly to the sur­face wa­ter sewer in the pub­lic road through a point where your prop­erty ad­joins the pub­lic road.

The con­nec­tion to the pub­lic sur­face wa­ter sewer should be car­ried out by a com­pe­tent per­son, and be ap­proved by the lo­cal au­thor­ity’s area engi­neer. Grass and paved sur­faces in the pub­lic area should be prop­erly re­in­stated af­ter the con­nec­tion is made. This will en­able good re­la­tion­ships to be main­tained with all par­ties.

‘‘ The en­vi­ron­men­tal health of­fi­cer does have cer­tain pow­ers in re­la­tion to pest con­trol but re­spon­si­bil­ity does rest pri­mar­ily with the per­son oc­cu­py­ing the prop­erty

Pa­trick Shine is a char­tered ge­o­mat­ics sur­veyor, a char­tered civil engi­neer and a mem­ber of scsi.ie

Each lo­cal au­thor­ity is re­spon­si­ble for deal­ing with derelict sites in its area and must keep a reg­is­ter of them

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