The majority of residential properties in England and Wales are now registered with the Land Registry (a non-ministerial department of His Majesty’s Government), but there are still many properties that are not.
What is a first registration of residential land?
When a property is first registered the land registry take various details from old conveyances, transfers and dealings of the land together with plans showing the outline of the property and then put these all together to form a registered title. The property will be given its own unique title number and the title deed and plan are stored at the land registry for information purposes.
Once the property is registered this proves ownership of the property in a digital form rather than through old deeds and documents and is a much safer way of proving ownership of a property. Copies of the title can then be downloaded and all titles are open to public inspection.
Is it compulsory to register my property?
It is now compulsory to register properties in England and Wales following a transaction such as a purchase, transfer of ownership or if you take out a new mortgage. If you own a property that isn’t already registered and none of the events listed are due to take place this is fine and you don’t need to do anything. You can however apply to the land registry for voluntary registration to enable your deeds to be held safely and for evidence of ownership of the property to be kept within the land registry records. The fee for voluntary registration is less than the land registry’s normal fee for registration and it is advisable to consider doing this not only to safeguard your deeds, but also to make any future sale of the property a much smoother process.
What if I am going to sell my unregistered property?
If you are going to sell a property that is unregistered you will need the title deeds which will need to date back at least 15 years to enable the land registry to put the title together. If the deeds have been lost you will need to provide evidence to the land registry as to why the deeds are not available, where they were last seen and provide evidence that you are the true owner. This can be done by way of a statement of truth backed up with as much evidence of ownership as possible, but this can be time consuming and can delay your sale. If enough evidence cannot be provided the title granted to the property may not be a full title which again is not the best situation, so it is important to get the deeds to the land registry and get the property registered if at all possible.
Can someone register my property fraudulently?
Although this is not common, it has been known for property fraudsters to apply to the land registry for registration of a property and say that they are the true owners. Once the property is registered this would then provide them with a title deed in their own name and allow a sale of the property with the fraudster claiming all your sale proceeds.
If you wish to discuss registering your property or checking if it is already registered in readiness for a future sale, or just for peace of mind, please click here to arrange for a call from one of the team.