Lawlink: What do I do about our home being on land in someone else’s name?

white and red wooden house beside grey framed magnifying glass
Stock photo.

Q: We built a house, with permission from my partners father, on his family land. We built this house mortgage free and have been living in it for two years. Recently we’ve realised the house is legally not in our name and the land it is built on is in my partners brothers name as he is farming the land.  How do we go about putting the site and house in our name? 

Dear Reader,

The first thing that you should do is to ensure that you remain on good terms with your partner’s family, and in particular his brother. The lands remain in his names and so his cooperation will be required to remedy the situation.

It is likely that at the time that you applied for planning permission your partner’s brother signed a form confirming that you could make an application for such. That will also generally confirm that the property is to be transferred to your partner and you in due course.

Having the property transferred is generally a straightforward process, provided that all parties agree. The first step would be to agree the boundaries and have a map formally completed by your engineer.

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It is highly likely that you or your engineer hold a map which sets out the agreed boundaries. Your engineer should also ensure that services, including perhaps the percolation area of a septic tank, are entirely within the boundaries of the property to be transferred to you.

Your partner’s brother may need to ensure that the area to be transferred is below a certain acreage, and that he notifies the transfer to the Department of Agriculture.

You will have to obtain a valuation on the property, and stamp duty will be payable at one per cent of the value of the property as it now stands. Had the land been transferred before the home was built, there may well have been a saving, but unfortunately that cannot now be remedied.

You and your partner, and your partner’s brother, may well incur solicitor’s fees and outlay over and above the stamp duty outlined above. That said, it is highly recommended that matters be put in hand sooner rather than later to address the imbalance.

If there is any reluctance on the part of your partner’s brother to transfer the property, you should immediately contact your solicitor.

Again, it is likely that a letter or a more formal document would have been signed in the context of planning permission. It is also possible that you could rely on the fact that you built the property with his knowledge and consent with an understanding that the properties would be transferred. Hopefully all matters can be agreed between you and your partner and his brother.