Most people have heard the term “registered land” but what does it mean? For many years, a change of ownership of a property meant the handing over to the Buyer of the ‘deeds’ – the documents passing the title or proof of ownership of the property from one owner to the next, sometimes over many years.
From 1925 the Land Registry rolled out a requirement to register land with them on any sale or other change of ownership. This commenced in London and became compulsory for Barrow in 1987 and for the whole of Cumbria in the mid 1990’s. We were the last area affected by compulsory registration! Now, when any property is sold, leased, mortgaged or otherwise changes ownership it must, if not already so, be registered with the Land Registry.
If your property is not yet registered, would you be able to prove ownership if challenged? What if the deeds are lost, destroyed or stolen? They are your only real proof of ownership. Whilst it is sometimes possible to piece together enough information to make a claim of ownership, it is a time consuming, and therefore, costly business with no certainty of success. The far better way forward is to voluntarily register your property.
Registration of property means that the Land Registry has a record of who owns the property and other relevant information. On making an application to register, we send the title deeds and any supporting information as to mortgages and other matters affecting the title to the Land Registry. They inspect the papers, compare them to existing plans and the neighbouring registered properties and register your ownership. On completion of registration you will receive a unique title number for your property.
Once your property has been registered there is no longer any risk associated with the ‘deeds’. It gives peace of mind and protects against any claims against your property. The scheme is backed by a Government guarantee – the information on the Land Registry’s computer system is true and a buyer can rely on it. You do not even have to produce the old deeds when selling the property – the Land Registry supplies a seller’s conveyancer with the ‘Official Copies’ of the registered title online and within seconds.
The Land Registry are currently offering a discount for voluntary registration. We would recommend all owners of unregistered property, whether it be a house, land, or commercial property to apply for voluntary registration. Please speak to your legal adviser for more information, see the Land Registry website for further details at www.landregistry.gov.uk or alternatively please call the Conveyancing Department on (01229) 811811.
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