A Brief Introduction:
Two systems of conveyancing exist at present in parallel: registered and unregistered.
Since the enactment of the Law of Property Act 1925 the government has maintained a registry of land in England and Wales known as the Land Registry. This registry consists only of the land that has to date been registered. Subsequent Acts have now made registration compulsory but there are areas of land that have been owned by the same family for years or were transferred before compulsory registration and are still unregistered.
The Register for each piece of land sets out who is the legal owner (has ‘title’ to the piece of land), the extent of the land and any rights of third parties over the piece of land.
In contrast the owner of unregistered land will hold a bundle of deeds and will have to show an unbroken chain of ownership for the past 15 years ’good root’, with separate documents to show the rights of others, if any, over the land. Some rights will be recorded at the Land Charges Department however these will be noted against the name of the landowner rather that the plot of land.
The fact that your land is unregistered might only come to light when you decide to sell, transfer or mortgage the land. Or perhaps because there is a dispute with a neighbour or you want to check boundaries or for any third party rights.
Here are some reasons you should register your unregistered title before selling your property:
Speed of Conveyancing
The process of registering your property for the first time is slow. First the deeds will need to be located. It might be that they are stored with the mortgage lender or in another secure location. The lawyer will have to read and order the deeds to check that there are no documents missing. He or she will also have to apply to the charges register in the names of all the previous owners (unless there are such searches in the bundle of deeds) to check for rights and incumbrances affecting the property. An Index Map will need to be ordered to ensure that no part of the land is in fact registered.
When all the paperwork is in order, it will be sent to the Land Registry who will also carefully check all the documents.
This process could take weeks.
On registration you will be able to download a copy of your title, for a small fee, from the Land Registry with a copy of the plan. This information is usually available as soon as requested.
Reduce the risk of property fraud
Fake documents can easily be produced and so once registered this risk is minimised therefore protecting yourself and the buyer.
Missing Conveyancing Documents
Once registered, the Land Registry will store the documents and you will not have to worry about losing them.
Missing deeds might mean that the buyer has to accept a ‘short root’ (less than 15 years of ‘root’) which may lead to all sorts of problems, for example, attaining a mortgage, or buying land with unknown incumbrances and as a result may not be acceptable to the buyer
Guarantee of title
Registered title is guaranteed by the Land Registry again giving protection to you and the buyer.
Limited choice of Conveyancing Solicitor
You may find your choice of Conveyancing Solicitor is limited as many will not have had experience with registering unregistered title.
The Land Registry has reduced its fee by 25% for voluntary first registration of a property to encourage registration of unregistered title.
Selling your property is a life event that is known to be very stressful. It makes sense to try to simplify the conveyancing process by registering your unregistered title before your sell it. Having a title that is guaranteed by the Land Registry should also make your property more saleable.