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What is a Valuation Office Search? – An Ellis & Ellis Explainer

What is the Valuation Office?

Progressing from the Townland Valuation Act (1826) and the Irish Poor Law Act (1838), the development of land valuations in Ireland evolved over time, culminating in the Tenement Valuation Acts of 1846 and 1852.

The intention here was to assess the sum of tax every household should contribute towards the needs of their local area. The details of the above were published between 1847 and 1864 under the title of Primary Valuation (of tenements), or Griffith’s Valuation

As such, these records can provide an invaluable resource for genealogical, historical and contemporary research.

Today the Valuation Office (V.O.) operates under the umbrella of the state agency ‘Tailte Éireann’ (Irish lands). It is also the custodian to the Valuation Office Revision Books. These can best be described as manuscript copies of the initial rateable valuation, along with records of any changes to the lessors, lessees, acreage, developments, or value of a holding that have been rated for taxation purposes. 

For residential property these updated versions of Griffith’s Valuation surveys date from the 1850s to the 1970s. However, a current function of the Valuation Office persists in its responsibility to provide stakeholders with ‘…accurate, up-to-date valuations of commercial and industrial properties. These valuations still ‘form the basis for a very significant element of local government revenue each year’.

Valuation Office searches are carried out against these records.

Why should the purchasing solicitor/conveyancer carry out a Valuation Office search when examining the title in a property/right/interest purchase?

From time to time, the Valuation Office registers need to be accessed in situations where ownership of unregistered title * needs to be established. This can either be part of title investigation in a property/ right/ interest purchase or as an important first step in generating the grounding documents necessary for the purpose of ‘first registration’ of title in the Land Registry. 

Naturally if the purchasers require funding from a lending institution, the purchaser’s Solicitor are also obliged by their commitment to provide a good and marketable title.

As such, in all of these scenarios there is an onus on the purchasing solicitor/ conveyancer to produce a ‘chain of title’ showing transfers of land up to and including the current owner.

With unregistered lands this ‘chain of title’ is typically established by conducting searches against the seller to the current owner in the Registry of Deeds. However, the Registry of Deeds being solely a transactional register of grantors (sellers, lessors or borrowers) names; if those grantors names are unknown then it is not possible to conduct searches in the Registry of deeds. 

Hence, it is then to the Valuation Office revision books that one must go to seek potential grantors names for follow-on searching in the Registry of Deeds.

How and what to search for in a Valuation Office search?

Typically Law Searchers like Ellis & Ellis would conduct a Valuation Office search by comparing a current Ordnance Survey map, which has had the area of interest clearly marked, against the official Valuation Office maps. 

Note: The marked Ordnance Survey map is to be provided by the requesting party.

The intention here is to first identify the various matching rateable ‘plots’ of land, which in turn will ideally identify the last rated occupiers (not owners) associated with those lands.

What will the Valuation Office search result show me?

A result (if available and/ or rated) will comprise of a colour copy of the associated Valuation Office map along with a colour copy of current and previous Valuation Office rate sheets.  As alluded to previously these sheets will usually detail lessors, lessees, acreage, developments, rateable value and any other changes over a period of time.

Depending on what the Valuation Search returns we would usually conduct follow-on searches in the Registry of Deeds to establish if a rated occupier is also the owner. If the last rated occupier transpires not to be the owner, we would repeat the process by searching the second last rated occupier, and so on and so forth.

Invariably, but not always, rated occupiers will emerge to be the registered owners. 

Lastly, given that there are no maps retained or associated with the Registry of Deeds, a Valuation Office search can provide complimentary evidence on location, possible boundaries, past use, occupancy, and historical transfers over time. 

* Note : 

“Unregistered title” refers to property whose title is not registered or considered registered in the Land Registry under the Registration of Title Act 1964, as defined by the Registry of Deeds.

Opt for a reliable Law Search provider.

Considering the significant consequences of conducting an inadequate or erroneous Valuation Office search, it becomes imperative for purchasing solicitors/conveyancers or those investigating the title to choose a trusted law search provider such as Ellis & Ellis.

With our combination of a quick and user-friendly ordering platform at www.ellis.ie, backed by over 130 years of professional expertise, and a commitment to providing a quality after-sales experience, we offer clients a superior searching service.

Moreover, Ellis & Ellis provide Professional Indemnity Cover of €10 million, providing added peace of mind.

Why not join the multitude of users who trust Ellis & Ellis to provide them with a competitive edge?

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