Registration of your property or land assists in identifying the boundaries in conveyancing transactions. When HM Land Registry was established in the 1800’s, there was no real requirement for property owners to register their land or properties. However, since 1st of December 1990, it became compulsory for all land and properties in England and Wales to be registered. Some property owners registered their properties voluntarily (“voluntary registration”) whilst the majority register after a trigger event such as a sale transaction, a gift or a re-mortgage. According to the HM Land Registry figures 15% of properties still remain unregistered in England and Wales and they are aiming to achieve comprehensive registration by 2030.
Registration of land helps in speeding up a conveyancing transaction. Conveyancers are expected to undertake significant research into the history of property/land ownership as the Land Registry does not keep a record of unregistered properties. There could be serious implications if a Conveyancer cannot undertake and indeed prove the previous ownership of the land i.e. if the deeds have been lost or destroyed.
The registration of property/land also protects property owners from claims of adverse possession. An unregistered property/land could easily be claimed by a squatter after 12 years of continued use of that property/land (although see Schedule 6 of the Land Registration Act 2002 for some protections now available). To reclaim a property from undue possession is almost impossible.
In summary, the risks involved of owning unregistered land or properties are as follows:
- There is no clarity, it is near impossible to obtain detailed information unless the owner has registered an interest.
- If all or part of the title deeds are lost or destroyed it will be extremely difficult to prove ownership.
- It is time consuming; it can be a long process reviewing title deeds which can delay conveyancing transactions.
- When a family member dies, it can be extremely upsetting having to deal with their estate. It can become more distressing if the property is unregistered and having to locate where the deeds to the property are kept.
- There is a higher risk of fraud. Fraudsters can assume your identity and attempt to sell or remortgage your property without your knowledge. Property/Land Fraud is on the rise in England and Wales.
In order to avoid such problems from arising, it is worthwhile checking whether your property is registered at Land Registry. If it isn’t registered, you should consider obtaining the title deeds and applying for “voluntary registration” to ensure all deeds to the property are logged with Land Registry. If all or part of the deeds have been misplaced, it is easier to submit the application for registration of the property when the owner is still able to prepare a Statutory Declaration advising how the deeds have been misplaced or destroyed. The HMLR offer a 25% discount off fees for voluntary first registrations.
If you or a relative owns an unregistered property or piece of land, please contact us in order to apply for voluntary registration:-
- Sedgley- 01902 904060
- Solihull and Birmingham – 0121 624 4000
- Kidderminster- 01562 820575
- Stourport – 01299 827517
- Worcester – 01905 730450
- Halesowen- 0121 227 3850