We have recently advised and assisted many land owners who have been evaluating the need for registration of their unregistered land interests at the Land Registry. Normally this has been prompted by potentially dealings with land, such as a sale or mortgage.
In England and Wales approximately 80% of land is registered. When there is a dealing with land, such as a sale or a mortgage, first registration of the relevant land will be required at the Land Registry. However, it is possible to make a voluntary application to register land at the Land Registry at a reduced fee.
Unregistered land is land that is not registered at the Land Registry. The unregistered title usually comprises of old conveyance documents and deeds, they are usually held by the property owner but sometimes they can be held by third parties such as a lender.
Registered land is land that is registered with the Land Registry. Upon a first registration the Land Registry will check the title against the historic unregistered deeds and then provide a registered title and a plan noting the extent of the land based upon ordinance survey plans. The registered title is provided with its own unique title number and stored electronically so it cannot be lost.
There are advantages in registering land at the Land Registry, some of these are:
It can make the process of selling, letting or mortgaging land quicker;
It can protect against adverse possession. Adverse Possession, sometimes referred to as squatters rights, is where a third party occupies land and then claims ownership of land, such as a neighbour. It is more difficult to claim ownership by adverse possession when land is registered at the Land Registry; and
Certainty regarding any matters that benefit or bind the land, also clear mapping regarding the extent of the land. The registered title cannot be lost unlike unregistered deeds.
One other advantage is that if there are difficulties with the first registration, such as lost documents or poor plans, it may be possible to rely upon the knowledge of those who have managed or are familiar with the land, and this may assist with the registration process. If missing documents or such knowledge are not available it could affect the registration process, and potentially the value of the land.
If you need assistance or have any questions regarding the registration of land at the Land Registry please contact Daniel Blood.