The Land Registry is the government body which is responsible for providing a reliable record of information about the ownership and interests in land. It also provides owners with a land title that is underpinned by the state. Over the last 150 years the government has gradually extended the geographical areas which are subject to compulsory registration which began in the 19th century with London. However compulsory registration did not reach Essex and Suffolk until the mid 1980s.
This means that there a fair number of properties (both residential and commercial property) in the eastern region which are still unregistered , which would relate to properties where the property has not been sold or mortgaged since that time.
If this applies to you then you will have a collection of deeds and documents (possibly lurking in a cupboard) evidencing the chain of ownership up to the time when you acquired the property – at least 30 years or probably even longer.
A voluntary application to the Land Registry does cost money. There will be fees payable to the Land Registry which will be based on the value of the property as together with some pre application search fees and legal fees. So why consider it now?
Whilst unregistered deeds can be lost, registered deeds gives you proof of ownership. Such documents can be fragile, difficult to read which together with poor quality plans can mean that it is difficult to identify your property.
The Land Registry records are easily accessible and contain all of the information required both to identify the property and list those matters which affect the property e.g. covenants i.e. obligations which must be observed and rights e.g. access.
Registered deeds can be used to avoid boundary disputes with neighbours who may intentionally or inadvertently be encroaching on your land.
Once the deeds have been registered it can save time when you do come to sell or mortgage the property resulting in fewer questions being raised by the buyer’s lawyer.
Registration can also help protect you against fraud. We have all heard about identity theft and there have been cases where a property has been “sold” without the knowledge of the owner. This is particularly relevant where the property is empty, rented out, the owner lives abroad or the property is neither mortgaged nor registered at the Land Registry.
Once the property has been registered you can sign up with the Land Registry for “Property Alerts” where the Land Registry can advise you if interest is being taken in your property e.g. if an application is made to change the ownership or register a mortgage.
So, having made the decision to make an application for voluntary registration what should you do next? Let us have your deeds, we will prepare and submit the application to the Land Registry and report to you when it is complete. Contact the property team at Holmes & Hills Solicitors to discuss any queries you may have.