Thomson & Bancks’ Trainee Legal Executive Hayley Tomkins looks into Registered Titles, and outlines the process to voluntary registration in our latest article.
Traditionally, the title to a property in England and Wales would be proved by a set of deeds and documents. There would be a separate conveyance or transfer each time the property changed hands, and a separate deed for each mortgage.
To prove title, one must check these documents to make sure that the chain of ownership is complete for at least 15 years. It could therefore frequently be the case that there are a large bundle of deeds and documents to review in order to prove ownership of a property.
However for some time now, when a property has changed hands, it has been necessary for the title to be registered at the Land Registry, which is a government department. When registered, title is recorded electronically in a central database. It is the database that proves title, and the title information document issued by the Land Registry is simply a print of the database. This is usually a short document.
The title consists of; an up-to-date Ordnance Survey based plan identifying the property, a description of the property, details (full names and addresses) of the owner (known as the registered proprietor), and details of any matters affecting the property (for example easements, covenants and mortgages).
Once a property is registered, the Land Registry return the title deeds to the owner. These are no longer necessary to prove ownership, although they can be of interest historically.
Advantages and Disadvantages of a Registered Title
The Land Registry states that the advantages of a registered title include:
One disadvantage, however, is that the title is no longer private, it becomes a document of public record and is therefore open to everyone to obtain a copy of. The title register also records the value of the property.
It is not necessary to register a title, as an unregistered title is perfectly valid and legal. It would only become necessary to register the title if the owner mortgages, transfers or assents the property. On a sale, the buyer would have to register the title.
How do I apply for voluntary First Registration?
To apply voluntarily to register a title, first your deeds would be checked and then the application form would be completed. This would be sent to the Land Registry together with all of the deeds and documents. The Land Registry currently take about 3 to 6 months to complete a voluntary first registration application.
Selling a property with a registered title will undoubtedly make the sale easier and, therefore, quicker for the solicitors acting for both the buyer and the seller. You should not apply to register the title immediately before a sale, as it could be delayed if the registration has not been completed by the time the sale is negotiated. If this were to happen the Land Registry can be requested to expedite the first registration application to complete it quickly.
If you are considering registering your property, contact our specialist property team to see how we could help.
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