My Property is Unregistered – Should I Worry?
Some time ago it became compulsory to register a transfer of ownership of property – in this area the trigger date was in the early 1970’s. Therefore, property that has been sold subsequently is now registered at Land Registry. The modern format of deeds is a title information document which includes registers of the property detailing the property itself and its address and the matters benefitting the property and those matters to which it is subject, the current registered proprietors and any mortgage lender with a financial charge on the property. Registration was brought in with the intention that, eventually, all property will be registered and it will be possible to readily identify property owners.
There are, however, a number of properties which remain unregistered and these are generally properties which have remained in the same ownership since before compulsory registration came about or which, initially, may have transferred ownership by means other than a sale.
Provided the bundle of unregistered deeds remain safe and accessible and the bundle is ‘complete’ and no single document has become lost over time, there is no reason why the property cannot be successfully sold by reference to such documents.
There are, however, benefits to be had by registering presently unregistered property at Land Registry :-
- It offers you easily accessible proof of land ownership which can be obtained from Land Registry for nominal cost. Once registered, ‘losing’ the paper copies of your deeds is not ‘the end of the world’. Unregistered title deeds are crucial to land ownership and the loss of these documents can create time consuming and expensive problems then re-constituting a title;
- It may help prevent others claiming ownership of part or all of your land since Land Registry would notify a registered proprietor if another party was endeavouring to ‘claim’ part of your land/property;
- It helps to identify your property since modern deeds include a plan of property based on Ordnance Survey maps (although not definitive) – unregistered title deeds may not be clear in this respect particularly if they are very old.
It is not necessary to transfer property for it to become registered. It is possible to voluntarily register unregistered property at Land Registry. Whilst this will incur a Land Registry fee, voluntary registrations are subject to reduced fees, the fee payable on the value of the property concerned.
If you know your property to be unregistered and is presently free of any mortgage and you would like us to assist in the registration of your property at Land Registry or for any other conveyacing enquiries, please do not hesitate to contact Liz Wallis, Alison Mason or Adam Fletcher at Ridley & Hall LLP on 01484 538421.