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19 May 2020

Unregistered title to property

Director and Property Solicitor Michael Fahy reviews the advantages and disadvantages of owning a property to which the title is unregistered.

Although registration of land was made compulsory in England and Wales since 01/12/90, it is estimated that some 17% of land remains unregistered and there are disadvantages to owning a property to which the title is unregistered.

Disadvantages of Unregistered Title

If the title to your property is unregistered it can be time-consuming; expensive; and difficult to prove that you are the legal owner of the property and this often results in delays in any dealings that you have with the land for example sales or mortgages and can significantly increase the legal fees as a result of the more drawn-out process for checking and proving your title.

There are practical problems in that, if the title is unregistered, proof of ownership is subject to locating the title deeds to the property and this can give rise to problems if the whereabouts of the title deeds are unknown or, as has happened in the past, there has been a fire at a bank or building society where the title deeds are held resulting in the title deeds being destroyed.

Unregistered title is also the subject of an increased risk of fraud as fraudsters can assume your identity and attempt to either sell or mortgage the property without your knowledge.

If the title to your property is unregistered we strongly advise that you consider making a voluntary application for registration and, as the Land Registry are encouraging property owners to register their title, and there is a reduced Land Registry application fee for doing so.

Advantages of Registered Title

If the title to your property is registered then the Register is held at the Land Registry, together with the documents referred to in the title, and these can be downloaded from the Land Registry website in a matter of minutes.

The Land Registry also have a copy of the plan showing the location of your property and this will make it easier for sales and re-mortgages as the plan can be used for carrying out Property Searches.

Once the title to your property is registered this also includes a state guarantee that the property is owned by the Registered Owner, which means you no longer have to review or hold on to the old title deeds and plans.  This has the added benefit that if the information held by the Land Registry is proved to be incorrect and you, as an innocent party, suffer any loss then you can make a claim to the Land Registry for compensation.

Conclusion

If you are unsure as to whether your property is registered, this can be easily checked by your solicitor carrying out a search at the Land Registry and if you need any help with reviewing the title deeds or applying for first registration of the title to your property please contact a member of our specialist property team by calling 01603 598000 or by emailing realestate@steeleslaw.co.uk.

 

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