Since December 1990 any land purchased or mortgaged in the UK must be registered. However, this still leaves around 15% of land in the UK unregistered*, and if you’re in that situation, it could prove a problem.
If your property is unregistered, do you know where your title deeds are? They might be at home in a drawer, in the loft, under the bed, with your bank or at a solicitor’s office. But if they’re lost, perhaps destroyed in a fire or you die without anyone else knowing where that ‘safe place’ is, that leaves considerable hassle for you or your loved ones. Without your title deeds, it’s very difficult to prove your ownership of the land, and it could take months to sort out.
The benefits of registering your property
- It gives you proof of ownership and you’ll have a plan showing your boundaries;
- It helps protect your land against fraud – someone else could claim they own the land, without your knowledge;
- The Land Registry guarantees your title and it’s stored electronically, so there are no title deeds which could be lost; and
- It makes it much simpler to sell or mortgage your property.
Typically, unregistered properties take a lot longer to go through the sales process than properties which are registered. Where land is unregistered, there are often many complicated title deeds to work though, compared to registered properties which have one title that’s usually just a couple of pages.
Unregistered properties can ring alarm bells for buyers. This may result in the buyer’s solicitor demanding the seller registers the property before the buyer will proceed. As the Land Registry is currently taking three months or more to complete first registrations, this can seriously delay proceedings, or even result in the sale falling through.
*Correct at 09.10.2014., Land Registry