If you purchased or acquired land or property many years ago then the original title deeds may still be unregistered. This means that there is no secure and official record of them. In recent years all land transactions such as a sales, purchases, gifts or other transfers have triggered first registration at the Land Registry. If your land or property is unregistered then the only legal proof of your ownership is the original paper deeds. Below we set out some of the most important benefits of making a voluntary application to register your property with the Land Registry.
Registration at the Land Registry gives more security and protection against claims of ownership (usually called ‘adverse possession’) by third parties because it is easier to prove exactly what you own. Your property will be clearly mapped as part of the registration process. You can also ensure that any rights that you have over neighbouring land are registered, in order to protect those rights too.
As part of the process your land is plotted on the Ordnance Survey map. This is the basis used by the Land Registry, solicitors and surveyors and any future dealings with the land will be much easier. Most professional offices have online access to the Land Registry and will be able to download your title document straight away. This is better than the old process of contacting your last solicitor, getting him/her to take your deeds out of storage, putting together photocopies of the relevant documents and sending them out in the post. All assuming no one has misplaced them. The Register can also be viewed quickly and securely on-line by you. It can also be useful, when dealing with utilities and local councils, to be able to quote a title number, and/ or if you wish to borrow money against your property, or apply for certain grants.
3. Greater Management of your Assets
Registration will consolidate complex legal information or historic data about your property and land. This is particularly important and helpful if you have an agricultural holding.
4. Saving Money
The usual Land Registry fees are discounted for voluntary registrations. Additionally your land is registered ahead of any future transaction or changes in ownership. The increased efficiency will save money in the future as well (see below).
5. Saving Time
Voluntary registration with the Land Registry makes future property transactions faster, easier and more straightforward. Professionals spend less time examining complicated unregistered titles which are made up of various historic documents. This will save money in professional fees.
6. Reducing Risks
Finally, Land Registry registration eliminates the risk of lost title deeds (which may be the only legal evidence of ownership). Lost title deeds lead to lots of problems requiring additional, expensive insurance policies and greatly increased professional costs. If you were about to sell your property you may lose an impatient buyer!
For all of these reasons we advise our clients with unregistered land and property to ask us to make a voluntary application to the Land Registry. We make these applications for competitive fixed fees. It is important to take our expert advice otherwise key things can be overlooked and missed from the registration application.
Frequently Asked Questions about Land Registry Voluntary Registration;
How long does Voluntary Registration take?
We expect to send the application to the Land Registry within approximately three weeks of seeing you and having discussed the application. Following this the Land Registry take approximately 10 -12 weeks depending upon how busy they are and whether they have a backlog of first registration applications.
How much does Voluntary Registration cost?
As a guide our fees typically are around £995 plus VAT. The actual cost depends on the number and complexity of the property, its extent and the unregistered deeds and whether we need to liaise with you and a surveyor where a new HM Land Registry compliant plan is required for the Land Registry application. Once you have become our client and you have sent us the deeds we will look through the deeds and either confirm or revise our estimate at that point. We have to make a charge for looking through the documents and returning them to you even if you decide not to proceed further in which case we would charge for no more than 2 hours of our time plus the cost of using Royal Mail special delivery to return the documents to you.
A separate fee is paid to the Land Registry and these vary according to the value of your property or land but examples are;
- for a property valued between £100,000 -£200,000 the Land Registry fee is £170
- for a property valued between £200,000-£500,000 the Land Registry fee is £250
- for a property valued between £500,000-£1,000,000 the Land Registry fee is £495
- for a property valued £1,000,001 and over the Land Registry fee is £830.
These costs are all modest when set against the value of your asset concerned. HM Land Registry do have backlogs of work currently and in some cases have been taking up to nearly 12 months to return successful registrations.