The importance of title investigation for Conveyancing in Stoke-on-Trent

With registration of land compulsory in all parts of the country, deducing title should be a mere formality for Conveyancing in Stoke-on-Trent.

Yet when Fridaysmove’s approved Conveyancing solicitor Laura Gill assisted the buyers of a freehold property in Park Avenue, Weston Coyney, Stoke-on-Trent ST3, she discovered that the owners of the house did not match the owners registered with the Land Registry.

Besides facilitating the process of Conveyancing in Stoke-on-Trent, registering land also avoids other problems.

With unregistered land, the title deeds are the only proof of ownership. But these may get lost or mislaid, for example if the owner of a dwelling dies without informing the heirs of the deeds' location. In this case, a reconstruction of title is required. This is a potentially lengthy and painstaking process.

How land registration affects Conveyancing in Stoke-on-Trent

Land registration was first made compulsory by the Land Registration Act 1925. In light of this, it may be surprising that title investigations are still an issue for Conveyancing in Stoke-on-Trent.

This is partly because registration could only be phased in for parts of the country at a time, mainly for financial reasons. Nevertheless, the authors of the Act expected that all areas would be covered by the 1950s.

But the war and subsequent recessions delayed the date several times. Registration was finally made compulsory in all of England and Wales in 1990.

This change, however, did not mean that all land owners had to rush to the Land Registry as soon as the law came into force. Instead, certain actions such as selling, letting, or recording restrictions and covenants now trigger compulsory registration. Properties can also be registered voluntarily, but registration always carries a fee.

When advising a buyer on Conveyancing in Stoke-on-Trent, it is vital to check that the Land Registry’s documents match the details of the owner. If there is a mismatch as with this freehold property, valued at around £145k, this might indicate that the seller is not the rightful owner of the property.

Conveyancing Solicitor Laura therefore had to insist that the sellers’ solicitors, Clyde Chappell & Botham Solicitors of 97/99 Weston Road, Meir, Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire, ST3 6AJ, deduce title.
Sometimes a mismatch merely means that a previous change of owners has not been registered. This is less serious, but should nevertheless be resolved by the sellers’ solicitors.

This is because if the sellers fail to notify the Land Registry of their rightful ownership before completion, the buyer will have to pay the registration fee.

To avoid this kind of confusion, the Land Registry Act 2002 was introduced, tightening regulations on compulsory registration. This will hopefully mean that the remaining 20% of unregistered land will soon be covered. Complicated title investigations will likely soon be a thing of the past for Conveyancing in Stoke-on-Trent.