Olivia Foster, in our Commercial Property team, explains first registrations of title and what to do if your land may be unregistered.
In England and Wales title to property can either be held on a registered or unregistered basis. Registered title is recorded at the Land Registry, a non-ministerial government department. Once the land or property is registered at the Land Registry, a title number will be assigned and a paper document known as an Official Copy Register will be issued, setting out the property description, listing any rights that benefit the land, and setting out any matters that may burden the property, such as covenants or legal charges. A title plan is also issued, showing the extent of the land that has been registered.
Ownership of unregistered land is proved by the production of title deeds to a property, which should typically include a “good root of title” demonstrating a chain of ownership going back at least 15 years.
If land is unregistered then there are no central records of ownership. If you are looking to purchase a property that is unregistered, then unregistered deeds will therefore need to be carefully checked to ensure that the property benefits from all necessary rights, to assess the matters that adversely affect the land, and to ensure that the seller’s title to the property can be proved and is otherwise in order.
If a good root of title cannot be demonstrated, or if the seller’s ownership cannot be proved, there is a risk that the Land Registry may refuse to register your title, or may award a lower class of title, which could potentially cause you issues with regards to ownership and future dispositions.
Is your title registered?
To simplify the process of conveyancing, many transactions now trigger a first registration requirement, to help transition all unregistered land to registered land.
Do you know whether your title to land is registered at the Land Registry? If your land is still unregistered, there are several benefits in having it registered now by submitting a voluntary application for first registration.
A few examples are:-
- Registered land is state-backed, giving greater security of title.
- There is greater protection against the possibility of adverse possession claims, which could result in a loss of title/land.
- Registered land gives more certainty and simplicity to a conveyancing transaction, which in result may reduce fees at a later date and speed up the conveyancing transaction.
- All the rights that benefit and the matters that affect the title (other than overriding interests) will be shown in the title register, as opposed to being contained within several unregistered documents that could go missing.
- The general extent of the land will be shown in a registered title plan.
- Your property, and in particular large property portfolios, will be more readily marketable.
Our leading Commercial Property can help if your property is currently unregistered, and you would like to register your title to it.
For further information or legal advice, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0118 951 6800.