Unregistered property, whether it is land, house or a flat is property which is not registered with HM Land Registry. Around 13% of property in the UK are unregistered. The records which land registry keeps includes the rights benefitting the property, covenants, who the legal owners are, charges or restrictions.
What is land registration?
HM Land Registry is a non-ministerial department that registers the ownership of land and property in England and Wales. It was created in 1862 to officially record the ownership of property and land.
It is a system which concerns ownership, possession, or other rights in land which are formally recorded to provide evidence of title, facilitate transactions and to prevent unlawful disposal.
Land Registry provides property owners with a land title guaranteed by the government, as well as with a title plan that indicates the property boundaries.
Once property is entered into the register, the Land Registry records any ownership changes, mortgages or leases affecting it.
If a property is unregistered there is no central record of ownership to search so it can be difficult to find the legal owners.
What are the issues with unregistered properties?
There are a number of issues with unregistered property. If you are trying to sell your property the sale process can be slowed down. There are also risks associated with owning unregistered property.
Uncertainty of boundaries
The documents which need to be looked at in determining boundaries are prior title deeds relating to the land. In the case of unregistered land, proof of title is always by reference to such deeds. However, the plans attached to the old title deeds are unclear or do not contain the details you would see on registered property.
If you are trying to sell your property and the plans are particular unclear the sale might be delayed. A purchaser might require for the property to get registered before exchange of contract. As Land Registry will have to deal with the application for registration, this could delay the sale.
Lost Title Deeds
In a case where a property is unregistered with the Land Registry, lost title deeds can be a real problem when it comes to proving that you are the rightful owner.
As the title deeds have never been recorded at Land Registry the only way to determine ownership is by investigating the title deeds and documents themselves, so if they cannot be found this is difficult.
For property to get registered without title deeds a conveyancer would need to reconstitute the deeds. Land Registry consider applications on a case by case basis, and it is crucial they have sufficient evidence to determine if registration is possible. It is best to get specialists to deal with the application to have the best chance of succeeding.
Adverse Possession (or Squatters Rights)
Adverse possession is based on the principle that if the property owner does not evict squatters from their property or land within a certain time, or interrupt their use of the land, then they could lose the legal ownership of that land to the squatter.
Applicants who want to claim legal ownership of property or land need to show they have acted as the landowners and that no permission from the legal owner. If the property is unregistered it can be difficult for Land Registry to know who to serve the notice on. This opens up the possibility of fraudulent claims being made on unregistered land.
How do I know if my property is registered?
Initially registration was voluntary. However, the Land Registration Act 1925 made registration compulsory and it was gradually phased in until by 1990 any transfer of land or property triggered the need to register it at the Land Registry. The Land Registration Act 2002 replaced the 1925 Act. All land bought, sold, gifted or mortgaged must now be registered at the Land Registry.
If you have owned your home from before 1990, and not taken a mortgage since, your property may not be registered.
But how do you find out for sure if your property is registered or not? If you have a beige Land Certificate or a blue Charge Certificate. This means your home already holds a title number on the Land Register at the Land Registry.
If you have a bundle of various old original documents, and the document used to transfer the property into your name at the time of the purchase is a Conveyance, it is likely that your property remains unregistered.
Problems selling unregistered property
If you are facing any issues trying to sell unregistered property, then speak to a solicitor or conveyancer about your options. Alternatively, for a fast, hassle-free house sale, get in touch with House Buy Fast. We buy any house in any condition.
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