Got a query?
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
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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