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The Land Registry was established back in 1862 and is a non-ministerial department that registers the ownership of land and property in England and Wales. It guarantees title to registered estates and interests in land. It records the ownership rights of freehold properties, and leasehold properties where the lease has been granted for a term exceeding seven years.
Rebecca Prince, Residential Property Legal Executive based at our Chichester West Sussex office, has produced this article to advise clients on how and why to register their title deeds. Contact Rebecca Prince or a member of our Residential Property Team if you require further legal advice.
Back in 1862 there was no requirement for owners to register their land or property with the Land Registry. However, by 1990, it became compulsory for all land and property in England and Wales to be registered at HM Land Registry when a sale or transfer took place.
The Land Registry states around a fifth of all properties in England and Wales still remain unregistered.
With property fraud on the increase, and unregistered titles being more vulnerable to property fraud, we would advise anyone with an unregistered title, freehold or leasehold, to register Title Deeds at the Land Registry and seek that certainty or guarantee from the Land Registry.
Registering your property Title Deeds at the Land Registry confirms details of your ownership, helps assist in identifying the boundaries of your property, and confirms details of any Rights in your favour and Covenants (legal promises) and restrictions imposed affecting your property. Registration will also detail any mortgage you have on the property.
The above information will be contained within your unregistered Title Deeds in a far more complicated form and, as such, each document that collectively makes up your Title Deeds must be kept very safe and secure. If your Title Deeds are lost or destroyed it can be difficult, if not impossible, to prove your ownership to your property and the subsequent sale becomes very complicated if not impossible. For this and many other reasons, you may wish to consider a Voluntary Registration of your Title Deeds with the Land Registry.
Voluntary Registration will safeguard your ownership and provide you with the security of knowing that your Title information and your right to ownership will be safe and will never be lost.
Registering your Title Deeds at the Land Registry provides a number of benefits which will include:-
a. the production of a plan showing the general boundaries of your property.
b. an electronic Register of your Title which the Land Registry will hold. This will provide a clear and reliable record of information about your ownership and will confirm details of interests (explain some interests here) affecting your land and property.
c. a land title, guaranteed by the government.
The process of Registration of your Title at the Land Registry will also give us the opportunity to identify any defects with your Title and correct any defects for you, almost like a cleansing of the Title for you. This will make any future sale easier. It will also assist your Personal Representatives in dealing with your sale as part of your estate in the event that you pass away.
The Registration of your Title Deeds at the Land Registry may also help protect you, as a property owner, against any claims for adverse possession (explain briefly) of your property.
There is potential that unregistered property or land could more easily be claimed by a “squatter” if they have continued to use the property for 12 years. If your Title Deeds are registered with the Land Registry, in the event adverse possession is claimed, the Land Registry will be able to contact you to advise of the claim being made thus, giving you the opportunity to object to the application.
There is an added safeguard in that if your Title Deeds are registered with the Land Registry you are able to sign up for the Land Registry’s ‘Property Alerts’. Whilst these Alerts will not necessarily block any changes to your Title, you will receive notification of the proposed attempt to change the title without you knowing and you will be able to take the appropriate action. To assist in avoiding fraud issues, it is worthwhile checking whether your property is registered at the Land Registry. If you property is not registered, you should consider applying for voluntary registration to ensure all of your Title Deeds are safely lodged with the Land Registry.
In the event that some of your Title Deeds have been misplaced or lost it may still be possible to make an application for voluntary registration by way of preparation of statutory declarations or statements of truth, particularly if you hold copies of the missing Title Deeds. We can help with this for you.
The Land Registry offers a 25% discount off fees for voluntary first registrations.
If you would like to apply for Voluntary Registration of your Title Deeds please contact our Residential Property Services Team at one of our three offices based in Chichester, Fareham or Havant
If we already hold your Deeds we will be able to obtain these from storage for you.
If you hold your Title Deeds please do not hesitate to contact us to make an appointment to bring them into the office and discuss with us. We would be pleased to advise you.
If you are unsure if your property is already registered you can use the Land Registry’s online checker at http://www.landregistry.gov.uk/ to find out.
For information regarding our pricing, please see enquire and we will give you a comprehensive quote to include all disbursements for dealing with the matter from start to finish.
Once your Title Deeds are registered we will provide you with a copy of the new Title document and that will guarantee your title. Any old deeds for sentimental purposes my be retained after the registration has taken place and you can keep the documents at home.
Please do not hesitate to contact the Residential Property Services Team at our Chichester, Fareham or Havant office if you would like to discuss or apply for voluntary registration of your property.