Many readers may be surprised if they were to discover that some or all of their land and property is not registered at the Land Registry. But what exactly does that mean and why could it spell bad news?
Firstly, let’s have a look at some of the background to the system of land registration. Following a series of Registration of Title Orders the whole of England and Wales is now subject to compulsory land registration on certain trigger events such as the completion of a sale or mortgage. Compulsory registration was introduced in a piecemeal fashion across the country and in East Anglia the Orders came into effect on various dates, mostly during the 1970s and 1980s. However, much of Suffolk was not subject to compulsory registration until 1 December 1990.
In excess of 80% of the land in England and Wales is now registered but that still leaves large swathes of unregistered land. If land has not been subject to any disposal or mortgage since the locality became subject to compulsory registration, there is a strong possibility it will remain unregistered. This can be particularly common for farmland where the holding is often passed from generation to generation within a family or has been held in the name of a company or the farming partnership for several decades.
If your land is unregistered that means it is not registered at the Land Registry with a title number and title plan and you will need to be able to produce the original deeds as proof of your ownership. This can be easier said than done on many occasions. Historically, banks often held title deeds but following the disappearance of numerous branches and the merger of various institutions in recent years it can sometimes be difficult to trace the whereabouts of deeds packs. If not held by the bank, deeds may be stored by solicitors or at home but there is always the risk of them being mislaid or destroyed. The consequences of losing the original deeds to unregistered land can be serious, with dealings in the land becoming considerably more costly and time consuming as a consequence.
If your land is unregistered, you can make a voluntary application for First Registration at the Land Registry. Here are just some of the benefits of registration:
- Registered land has state-backed security of title.
- The title register provides a record of ownership, so there is no longer a need to produce the historic title deeds as evidence. Duplicate copies of the title register and plan may be obtained from the Land Registry for a nominal fee which gives peace of mind and ends worry about losing deeds.
- Costs on future dealings should be reduced because the conveyancing procedure is more straightforward and it can also help speed up transactions.
- It becomes more difficult for anybody squatting on land to claim ownership by adverse possession.
The Land Registry also currently offers a reduced fee for voluntary First Registrations. Greene & Greene has extensive experience in preparing and submitting such applications for all types of property ranging from small plots or individual houses to entire farms.
At a time of great uncertainty, many of our more progressive farming clients are now taking measures to assess their assets and consider the opportunities available to them moving forward. In addition to the benefits stated above, having a registered title makes it easier to clearly identify the extent and value of your land and this can assist in all manner of circumstances whether preparing a schedule of landholding assets or a new Partnership Agreement.
If you require assistance on a possible First Registration or any proposed transaction please contact Tom Andrews (email@example.com or direct on 01284 717407) For more information on the services offered by Greene & Greene Solicitors please visit www.greene-greene.com and follow on Twitter @GreeneGreeneLaw