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Registration of Land Solicitors

What is unregistered land?

Unregistered land is land which has an owner, but the details of ownership have never been registered at the Land Registry. This is more common with land that has been passed down through generations within the same family or business and particularly with rural and agricultural land. Land registration was introduced in 1925 and since 1990 all areas of England have been subject to compulsory registration so the amount of unregistered land continues to decrease.

What happens when you register land?

Once the land is registered with the Land Registry, it is given a unique number, known as the ‘Title Number’, which distinguishes it from other registered land. The Land Registry also generates a document, referred to as the ‘Title Register’, and an Official Plan, which covers all relevant and up-to-date information about the land including: the owner’s identity ; details of any boundaries and public rights of ways; any restrictions affecting the land; the class of title by which the land is held; details of mortgages and leases affecting the land.

Compulsory and voluntary first registration

The registration of unregistered land becomes compulsory when a “trigger event” occurs. Trigger events include:

  • Sale or purchase of the unregistered land;
  • Granting a new lease for a term exceeding 7 years;
  • Mortgaging the unregistered land; and
  • Inheritance and gifts of unregistered land.

Alternatively, where no compulsory ‘trigger’ event has occurred, you can voluntarily apply to register your land. The advantage of doing so is a 25% discount in Land Registry first registration fees.

Risks associated with unregistered land

There are risks associated with unregistered land, including but not limited to the following:

  • Potential delays when selling unregistered land.
    • Many conveyancers are unfamiliar with unregistered land so do not like dealing with unregistered titles and may try to insist that the Seller registers the land prior to selling the land. As there are a number of steps to be taken and documents to be supplied to the Land Registry upon first registration, there could be extensive delays to the transaction
  • Proving ownership of unregistered land can be challenging, especially if the old title deeds are lost or destroyed;
  • Higher vulnerability to property fraud as the owner of the land is unidentified, therefore, deeds to the land are more easily forged;
  • Unregistered land is at a greater risk of being lost through a claim for adverse possession;
    • As the Land Registry is not aware of the identity of the owner of the land, it is unable to serve notice of the claim on the owner. Without this notice, the owner of the unregistered land is unlikely to know of the claim and thus would not be in a position to object to the squatter’s claim for adverse possession.
  • Owners of unregistered land may be unaware of matters burdening the land, thereby increasing the risk of future disputes.

How can Glanvilles LLP help?

If you wish to apply for first registration, whether compulsorily or voluntarily, you should use a Property Solicitor who has expertise in first registration. At Glanvilles LLP, our team of Property solicitors will be able to help you to register your land and will ensure the process is as straightforward as possible.