The Land Registry completed an average of 1.7 million applications a month between October and December 2021, so it’s not surprising that sometimes errors creep into the Official Copy of Register or Title plan following registration – either as a result of conveyancer or Land Registry mistake. Jennie Curtis discusses what can be done if you spot an error on the register.
Reporting the mistake
Reporting a mistake to the Land Registry could not be easier. Examples of a mistake might be:
- a spelling error in the name of an individual or company;
- where one of the forms submitted for registration (e.g. an RX1 to record a restriction) has been missed and the entry not recorded;
- an error with a plan – such as including too much land in one title or including the same land in more than one title (double registration);
- the property address or an address of an owner is incorrect;
- the price paid for the property is incorrect;
- omitting an entry for a right of way;
- omitting an entry for a restrictive covenant;
- the charge or mortgage entry is incorrect of missing; or
- any other incorrect entry.
All of these mistakes can be reported to the Land Registry through their contact form at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/contact-hm-land-registry. The Land Registry allows you to upload documents to support your request, for example, a passport for a spelling mistake in a name.
A fraud on the register can also amount to a mistake, but we do not cover fraud or forgery in this article.
What happens next?
The Land Registry will review your request to check whether this is indeed an error that needs correcting. If the error is a simple one, they aim to deal with the error within 10 working days. More complex errors can take longer to deal with.
If the error is complex, the Land Registry may request more information or request that you submit a formal application.
To correct simple errors, the Land Registry case worker would usually itself lodge an application to the Land Registry. When completed, they will send you the updated official copies.
This application will be subject to the usual priority rules, so it will rank behind any existing applications on the title. You will appreciate how this can cause concern if, for example, the error was a failure to lodge a restriction, and there are applications ranking in priority ahead of the rectification that would have had to comply with the terms of the restriction. There is compensation if this causes a loss, and we discuss this further below.
Mistakes that affect another party
If the error prejudicially affects the title of a registered proprietor in possession, the Land Registry would usually only make the correction with their consent. They would start by giving notice to the interested party, and that party would have 15 working days to respond (unless a request is made for more time).
A common example of a mistake that could prejudicially affect another is a mapping error. For example, the land at the corner of your property might have been incorrectly recorded as belonging to your neighbour or may even have been registered to both you and your neighbour (a double registration). The Land Registry would have to investigate further and notify your neighbour, as unilaterally putting the land in your ownership would adversely affect the title to your neighbour’s property. In some instances, a surveyor would be sent out to inspect the boundaries. If a correction is made, this would be called a “rectification” of the register.
It would not be a rectification if the mapping error did not affect another party. For example, if your land naturally has a curved boundary at the front, but the land has been mapped as having a straight boundary, when the Land Registry alters the map to show the curved boundary, no party is prejudiced as you owned the land all the time. This would be an “alteration” as it has just shown the boundary in a more accurate position. Another party would usually not need to be notified for an alteration.
If the mistake affects another party and they object to the proposed correction, than the Land Registry cannot complete the application until the objection has been resolved (unless the application is groundless).
In the first instance, the Land Registry will encourage the parties to negotiate and settle the matter by agreement. If they are unable to do so, then the matter would be referred to the Land Tribunal. Obviously, this will have cost implications for all those involved so it is preferable to reach agreement without going to tribunal.
This is why if you are purchasing a property or you are a lender taking a new charge, it is important to deal with any mistakes prior to completion. The application to rectify the register will take place in priority, so your purchase or charge will be subject to the outcome. If the mistake is hotly contested, then this can add months of delays.
Errors that cause a financial loss
In the rare circumstances that the error does cause a loss, then the party may be eligible to recover compensation from the Land Registry. This would be a financial loss, for example, if the sale of your property fell through because of a mistake on the register, you would have costs in connection with that abortive sale. A lender might be compensated if their charge was removed from the register in error, and the property was sold without the mortgage being repaid.
A claim must be made within 6 years. The ability to recover compensation might be affected if the error was caused partly or entirely by the applicant’s lack of proper care when making the application. If you are considering making a claim, then we recommend that you take legal advice on whether you may be entitled to an indemnity.