If you have owned your home from before 1990, and not taken a mortgage since, there is a good chance your property is unregistered.
Around 13% of property in the UK is not registered.
Unregistered land increases the risk of fraud.
What is the Land Registry?
Established in 1862, the Land Registry is a government organisation that keeps a record of land and property ownership in England and Wales.
Up until the 1980's the system didn't really work very well, registration was not compulsory, and even when the land was registered it was not compulsory to update the register which often led to it being out of date. During this period the only real way to prove that you owned a property was by holding paper documents known as title deeds.
What are title deeds?
Title deeds are paper documents showing the chain of ownership for land and property. They can include:
These deeds, some dating back centuries, needed a place to be stored, often they would be with banks, solicitors or maybe even at home but the revolution of the computer offered an alternative.
With the rise of computers in 1986 the Land Registry began to produce registers electronically which dramatically increased their efficiency. This increase furthered their case for making registration compulsory and in 1990 compulsory registration was introduced in England and Wales. At this point the register also became open to public inspection. Instead of old dusty deeds, that could be easily misplaced, people could now order an electronic printout version of their deeds known as "office copies".
What are Land Registry office copies?
It is a guaranteed, modern equivalent of the old Title Deeds and the Land Registry guarantee that the details are correct. Originally a solicitor would write to the Land Registry to request a copy which would be sent in the post, but advancements in technology, especially the internet, mean that they can now be downloaded immediately.
If it became compulsory won't your property already be registered?
Well no, because registration was only compulsory on certain transactions after the introduction of compulsory registration. There was no requirement to register properties that were already owned. If you have have not done something with the property that would need the Land Registry to process, such as mortgage it, your property will not have triggered compulsory registration.
When will you need to register your property?
You will need to register your property If you want to:
Sell your property
Gift your property
Exchange your property for other property or land
Mortgage your property
However, even if you do not plan on doing any of the above, you can still voluntarily register your property.
But why should you register your property, even if you have no immediate plans to sell, gift, leave in a will, exchange, or mortgage it?
Why should you register your property?
For one, voluntary registration prevents someone claiming property rights through adverse possession. This is when someone occupies land that someone else owns with the intention of possessing it themselves. Without the property being registered you may not have the automatic right to object to an application.
Registering your property also gives you a land title guaranteed by the government. This makes it much easier to change, sell, or give away your property in the future.
Additionally, registering your property can help protect it from fraudsters who may attempt to illegally sell or mortgage it. You can also track changes to the register and place restrictions on your title. For more on this see our article about how you can set up Alerts at the Land Registry using their FREE system.
But that's not all. If you gift land in your will that is unregistered, beneficiaries will need to register the property to become owners – a process that can be both distressing and time-consuming.
Are you still unsure whether your house is registered?
If you are unsure whether your house is registered, all you need to do is click below on the 'Please check for me' button, fill in your details and we will search the Land Registry map for you. This search is FREE! if it is discovered that your property is unregistered, we will contact you to discuss your options.