Although the majority of land in England and Wales is now registered with the Land Registry, there is still a small proportion of land that remains unregistered. This can lead to a number of queries and concerns for clients looking to sell their unregistered property.
What is the difference between registered and unregistered land?
The Land Registry keeps a record of all registered and unregistered property on an indexed map.
When a property is registered, the Land Registry have a record of the property’s title information which sets out who owns the property, together with any information about covenants affecting the property, rights benefitting the property and mortgages against the property. This is updated at the time of any event in respect of the property for example, discharge of a mortgage or change of ownership.
When land is unregistered, the Land Registry does not hold this information and therefore it is down to the seller to prove their ownership of the property. They need to provide proof of ownership going back at least 15 years and should hopefully hold the transfer which transferred ownership of the property to the current owners.
It is important to keep your deeds safe as they are crucial to show good root of title and ownership to the property. Bendles can hold your deeds at our offices, free of charge.
The below are all examples of events that trigger first registration of a property at the Land Registry:
- Sale or Transfer
- Voluntary Registration
- Grant of a new Lease
- First Legal Mortgage
How do I sell an unregistered property?
As stated above, selling a property is a trigger event and upon completion, the property will be registered at the Land Registry by the buyer. In order to avoid unnecessary delays, you should ensure that you have the unregistered Title Deeds at hand, ready to produce to your Solicitor upon instruction. If your property was registered with a mortgage, your bank or building society may hold the Title Deeds.
We will then produce an Epitome of Title based upon the paper title deeds provided. This is a timeline of ownership going back at least 15 years and ending with you or your parents.
Once the Epitome has been provided to the buyers, they will raise any enquiries they may have, just as they would with a registered property.
If you are thinking of selling your unregistered land and want to avoid any delays, you can voluntarily register your property at the Land Registry and we would be more than happy to assist you with the same.
What if I cannot find my Title Deeds?
If you cannot locate your title deeds, then we are still able to make an application to the Land Registry to register your property. However, we would require as much evidence of ownership as possible for example, utility bills, council tax bills or any other evidence available. The Land Registry would also require a Statement of Truth from you which would include explaining the events that led to the loss or destruction of the deeds.
If the Land Registry are happy with the evidence provided, they will continue to register the property but may only provide Possessory Title.
If you are thinking of selling your unregistered property or are looking to make an application for voluntary registration, please contact us for friendly legal advice.