Historically, all land in England and Wales used to be unregistered. When a property or land changed hands, lawyers would hand write documents transferring the property or land from one party to the other.
These legal documents would form part of the chain of ownership and would detail important information such as the purchase price, the parties and any conditions or covenants on the land. The owner of the land would retain a bundle of documents and title deeds to prove their ownership of the property. This system was revised in 1925.
Registration at the Land Registry is the official recording of property ownership in England and Wales. Since 1 December 1990, it has been compulsory in England and Wales to register unregistered land at the Land Registry after it has been sold. The Land Registration Act 2002 broadened the scope of dispositions which trigger compulsory first registration to include assents, gifts and mortgages.
A common misconception is that all land and property in England and Wales is now registered. This is incorrect. As of September 2019 HM Land Registry had over 25 million registered titles and estimated that 87% of all land and property in England and Wales was registered, leaving approximately 13% of land unregistered. Land is a valuable asset and where it has been in the same family for generations, registration might never have taken place. Owners don’t have to wait for compulsory first registration to bite, and can apply for voluntary first registration of their land at any time.
So what are the five main benefits of voluntary first registration of land?
The benefits of registration include:
- Security – unregistered land is at a higher risk of fraud. Fraudsters can assume your identity and attempt to sell or mortgage your property without your knowledge. Registration helps you to protect your property from fraud and resist any third party applications for adverse possession, commonly referred to as “squatter’s rights”.
- Evidence of ownership – registration makes it easier to buy and sell property as all the title information necessary for conveyancing will be in the Land Register, which is available online for everyone to see. The Land Registry will collate all the relevant information that they need from the historic deeds and will then recite only the relevant information within three registers which form part of the registered title.
- Reduced future costs – the cost of first registration depends on the value of your property. There is a 25% reduction for voluntary first registrations. A voluntary first registration is when you choose to register your property rather than having to because, for example, you are selling it or taking out a mortgage on it.
- Clarity – registration makes it easier for conveyancers to ascertain who owns the property and what benefits and burdens are attached to the land. If land is unregistered, the conveyancer has to review the original deeds. Deeds can be lengthy hand written documents, which can be difficult to read and interpret. Reviewing the deeds can increase the time the transaction takes to complete because the conveyancer will need to wait for the deeds, check the chain of ownership is correct and then draft the contract.
- Certainty – In addition to the registered title to the property, the Land Registry will also provide a title plan which provides evidence of the extent of the property. This makes it easier for a buyer to identify the boundaries of their property and check that their understanding of the extent of the property is the same as shown on the title plan. Registration also provides a state-backed guarantee securing the title to the property, meaning that the state guarantees that the legal estate is vested in the registered owner.
Get in touch
If you are unsure as to whether your land or property is properly registered, or you want to deal with the registration of your land please get in touch. Murrell Associates have an experienced, commercial and friendly team of commercial property lawyers. We take the time to fully understand our clients’ needs and pride ourselves on our expertise and levels of client service. The team can be contacted on 01872 226990 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.