12 October 2013 marks the tenth anniversary of the Land Registration Act 2002 (“the Act”) coming into force. It also marks the end of a long transitional period in the Act. At the end of the transitional period, a limited number of interests in land will lose their status as overriding interests.
An overriding interest is an interest in land that binds the registered owner of the land even though there is no record of that interest on the registered title. Common overriding interests are the rights of people in actual occupation of the land (such as a tenant’s option to buy its landlord’s freehold) and some (but not all) easements. Whilst these will remain as overriding interests after 12 October 2013, some more esoteric rights will cease to be overriding interests. This implements one of the objectives of the Act, which is to make the registered title more comprehensive and reduce the number of overriding interests. The concept of overriding interests is relevant only to land that is registered at the Land Registry.
A list of the interests that will lose their overriding status is set out in a table below, with a brief explanation of what those interests represent. The most notable of them is “chancel repair liability” which has been a potential thorn in the flesh for land owners for many years.
What are the consequences of this change? This depends on whether you are the owner of the land affected by the overriding interests that are ceasing to override, or the person who claims that interest.
If you are the owner of land affected by one of these overriding interests, you will still be subject to it on and after 13 October, because it was an overriding interest when you acquired the land. However, if you dispose of the land on or after 13 October 2013, your buyer will acquire the land free from that overriding interest, unless the person with the benefit of it has protected it at the Land Registry before you dispose of the land.
If you believe that you have the benefit of one of the overriding interests listed below, you have until 12 October 2013 to register a notice of the interest against the land that it affects, to make certain that you retain the benefit of the interest after that date. Although you will still be able to protect the interest after 12 October 2013, this will be effective only if ownership of the land has not changed hands since 12 October 2013. In addition, protecting one of these interests costs nothing up to 12 October 2013 but will be subject to a registration fee after that date.
The significance of some of these rights can be seen from the fact that the Church of England is apparently trying to ensure that any chancel repair liabilities are being noted on landowners’ titles and that those who have the benefit of manorial rights are believed to be protecting them in order to safeguard any rights they may have to mines and minerals under landowners’ titles.
Click here to see chart.