If you have been in your house for a number of years (prior to 1985 in Cheltenham) and there has been no change in ownership since, your property is likely to be unregistered land. Although there is no obligation on you to register your land at the Land Registry there may well be benefits in doing so.
Over the past few months we have come across a number of circumstances where a client would have been in a much better position if he/she had registered their property at the Land Registry.
The first example involves someone coming to sell their unregistered property only to realise that the Land Registry had unwittingly registered their neighbour as the legal owner of part of the client's land. This was due to an inaccurate Title Plan of the property being used and although it was an accident by the neighbour, because they had mortgaged the property and granted a lease over it, it took a long time and cost thousands of pounds to resolve.
This problem could have been avoided if the client had voluntarily registered the property years earlier. This is because when you register your land the Land Registry includes within the registered title a Land Registry filed plan which identifies the land in the title and who it belongs to. This can be contrasted with unregistered title plans which are notoriously inaccurate.
The second example involves a case of lost Title Deeds. Our client could not remember who held her title deeds and this problem was compounded as her previous solicitor had merged with another several years ago. It took 9 months to eventually track down the Deeds and although this was not a problem in this instance it would have been a major issue if the client had been trying to sell her property.
This problem would have been avoided if the property was registered as the Land Registry retains on its database evidence of land ownership and provides a certificate to the registered owner showing that they are owners of the land in question. This provides the registered proprietors with a state guaranteed title to their property.
Because the Land Registry retains on its database a copy of the title this effectively insures the owner against their deeds being lost, damaged or destroyed.
Other Benefits of Registered Land
- Where a title remains unregistered it is much easier for third parties to attempt to obtain "squatters; rights" over that property as they are able to make an application to the Land Registry for adverse possession. With registered land, however, it is virtually impossible for anybody to acquire squatters rights over a property without the true owner's knowledge. The reason for this is that upon any application for squatters' rights the Land Registry will notify the registered proprietor that their property is at risk. This gives the landowner time in which to deal with the matter and prevent squatters' rights from being obtained against them. This is particularly useful for open land in country areas. It is important that the Land Registry has an up to date address for you though.
- If you are thinking of developing your land you can easily demonstrate your ownership of the land by downloading an up to date copy of your title from the Land Registry. This can be extremely useful for example if one is entering into a Section 106 agreement with the local authority for planning purposes or if one is looking to obtain finance on a property. Having unregistered land is likely to delay the process.
- If you voluntarily register your land there is a reduced fee to pay the Land Registry. For example, if your property is worth £250,000.00 you will save £70.00 on the normal registration fee.
If you think that your land is unregistered and you would like to register or you would like to update your postal address on your Land Registry title, please contact Doug Armstrong today on 01242 574244 to discuss the matter further. We offer a special fixed fee offer (subject to conditions) to deal with this.