Land Registry is a non-ministerial department of the UK Government which was created in the year 1862 to register the ownership of land and property. In England and Wales, it is with Her Majesty and is called as Her Majesty’s Land Registry whereas its equivalent office in Scotland is the Registers of Scotland whereas it is Land and Property Services for Northern Ireland.
HM Land Registry has 14 offices across England and Wales, with its head office in Croydon. It is one of the largest property databases in Europe and it was in the year 2007, when property market was at its boom, property worth £1 million was processed every minute at HM Land Registry. In addition to registering the ownership of land and property, it also helps property investors to check for the latest monthly cost of residential properties and government to assess property values for tax purposes.It safeguards land and property ownership worth more than £4 trillion, including more than £1 trillion of mortgages and has more than 24 million titles which covers more than 85% of the land.
When a land or property is registered, HM Land & Registry guarantees title to the registered estates and it records the ownership rights of freehold and leasehold properties and it is given a unique title number in their database. Since it does not receives any funding from the government, it covers its expenditure from the registration and search fees by providing online access to its database, where people have to pay a fees for availing the same.It was in 1990 when UK government made it mandatory for all landowners to register their land with Land Registry and as of now around 75 percent of land is registered in England and Wales, in which majority of them have done a voluntary registration whereas a section of 75% registered their land after conveyancing transaction while 15% of land is still unregistered.
So, what does it mean when we say that a particular land has not been registered? Does it mean that it is without an owner?
Answer is No. There is no land without its owner. All unregistered property is owned by someone, even if the government does not have the details of the owner. However, there are certain ways to figure out the owner of each land like by asking neighbours or local authority etc. However, the owners of the unregistered property miss out on the benefits of land registration and it also has its share of disadvantages/risks involved, like:
- If the owner of the land dies, it becomes difficult for the family members to locate the deeds to the property for the sale or transfer purpose.
- Conveyancing transactions are delayed.
- At times, it is difficult to prove the ownership of the land, especially when the deed is lost.
- It becomes quite difficult to prove the ownership of an unregistered land.
- Risk of fraud is higher with an unregistered property and the owner of the land has no way to prove his ownership on it. Property/Land fraud is on the rise in England and Wales.
Land Registry, a government department, also called and known as HM Land Registry, was created with the intention to carry out their duties with fairness, honesty and transparency with their mission: to protect and guarantee your land and property rights and, anyone, who is buying or selling land or property or mortgage, must and should apply to Land Registry to:
- Register any unregistered land or property.
- Register change of ownership of a registered land or property.
- Register an interest affecting registered land or property, such as a mortgage or a lease.
You must register the land with the Land Registry in any or all cases:
- If you have bought the land.
- It the land in picture is given to you.
- If you have inherited the land.
- If you have mortgaged the property.
- If you have received the land in exchange of some other property or land.
Once you register your land with the Land Registry, it will publish the information of your registered land online with following details:
- Name of the Owner(s)
- Cost you have paid for the property.
- General or approximate boundaries of the property.
In case, you are registering your land for the first time:
In case you are registering your land for the first ever time, you need to do the following for a foolproof registration:
- Your first step should be to check the online register of Land Registry to ensure that your land is not registered under any owner previously. In case, your land has not been registered before, you can start with the required paperwork for the registration. However, in case you land has been registered before under a different owner, you would need to transfer the ownership on your name, with the consent of previous owner. However, if you want to transfer your land or property into another person’s name, or if you want to add your partner as a joint owner, in this case, you need to update HM Land Registry about your decision and submit required documents.
- For the first time registration of your land, you would have to submit First Registration form and prepare an outline of your land as per deeds of the document. However, if you have bought your land from someone else, in this case you have to submit Transfer of Whole of Registered Title(s). along with First Registration songs.
- For the first time registration of your land, you have to submit certain documents depending on your circumstances like value and location of the property etc to the Land Registry.
- For every registration, you need to pay certain registration fees to the Land Registry, which at times depends on the value of your property.
- Once you are ready with all the above required documents, you need to send the documents with the fees to the Land Registry by post.
In case, the property you want to register under your ownership with Land Registry, you have to included either of below forms along with First Registration form:
- In case the property inherited was in the name of a single owner (previously registered with Land Registry), you need to fill Whole of Registered Title Assent Form, along with first registration form.
- In case the property inherited by you was in joint ownership, then the surviving owner has to fill Transfer of Whole of Registered Title Form and you have to submit this filled form along with First Registration Form to the Land Registry.
- Apart from First Registration, Transfer of Whole of Registered Title Form, Whole of Registered Title Assent Form, you may need to few more documents like: proof of identity form, a disclosable interest form, a certified copy of lease etc.
How to transfer ownership of your property?
In case you wish to transfer the ownership of your property to another person’s name or if you want to add another person as a joint owner of your property, you need to inform HM Land Registry about your decision and submit following documents for it to change the ownership and other details in the register:
- You need to fill in an application to change the register with the new owner/joint owner details. This form need to be downloaded from www.gov.uk website and sent to the Land Registry by post along with other documents, if any.
- In case you are transferring your whole property, you need to fill in Transfer of Whole of Registered Title Form and in case you are transferring only a part of your property, you need to fill in a Transfer of Part of Registered Title and submit the same with Land Registry.
- Along with either of above documents, you would be required to submit certificate of identity for a private individual.
- Once you have filled the documents and the forms, you need to post these forms with the required fees.
What if the Register Details on Land Registry is Wrong/How to Update the Register Details?
In case you have noticed some incorrect information on the register on Land Registry or if you want to update certain information on the Register, you must inform HM Land Registry about the same for it to update those details/entries as per your requirement.
- In case you want to update or correct addresses: You can register up to 3 addresses, including email addresses and non-UK addresses for each property registered with Land Registry and to change or update any or all of them, you need to send a request to it to update or correct the registered owners’ contact addresses by filling up the Updating Registered Owners’ Contact Address.
- In case you want to change your name in the register: In this case, you have to tell the HM Land Registry about it and send the application form along with
- A certified copy of a certificate showing change in name such as a marriage certificate, a civil partnership etc.
- A copy of a deed poll.
- A statement of truth, which is a way to validate and support your application you have sent to HM Land Registry.
- A statutory declaration which is sworn generally before a solicitor.
- In case you are not using a conveyance, you have to send a confirmation of identity in your new name and a copy of an official document with your former name such as your passport, utility bill etc.
For any change/correction/updation in the registers of HM Land Registry, you have to post your forms with supporting documents and fees to0020their office by post at their address:
HM Land Registry
PO Box 74
Gloucester GL14 9BB
In case if your change or correction is related to gender recognition, you must write “Private and Confidential” on the envelope.
How to Obtain Documents from the Land Registry?
When a land is registered with the Land Registry, it allocates a unique title number to each land registered under it and add it to it database. There are two basic documents which are registered under each title number:
- Register of Title: This document has a brief description of the land, then name of the owner and description/details of his nature of rights over the land like in which manner he can use the land etc.
- Title Plan: This document defines the boundaries of the land for the better understanding of how much the registered proprietor owns. However, in vast majority of cases, it shows general i.e. approximate boundaries.
In case, if the owner decides to sell a part/piece of a registered land, document known as Transfer of Part document is signed by the seller, which has to be submitted at the Land Registry and it has a plan of the land being sold off. When the transfer of part document is submitted at the Land Registry, it will then create a new Register of Title and Title Plan with a new title number for the land which is sold off. In addition to this, Land Registry will also amend the existing Register of Title and Title Plan for the land in picture. Amended Register of Title and Title Plan will show the reduced area of land with new general boundaries. Process of land registry takes approx 2 weeks to 2 months, depending on how busy they are.
Transfer of part document must be filed under each title number and it is updated in the online database of Land Registry so that if anyone wants to obtain an official copy of it, can do so by paying nominal fees to the Land Registry.
You can obtain your copy of the Register of Title and Title Plan for any title number by filling Official Copies (OC1) and sending it to the Land Registry by post. Land Registry does not allow online submission of this form by the individuals; however, you can use services of authorized third parties and submit your form online through them.
Benefits of Land Registration:
Land registration with land registry has lot to offer in terms of benefits to the owner of land, such as:
- Clarity: When a land is registered, it is provided a unique title number which describes the property, name(s) and address(s) of the owners and outlines the encumbrances which affect the property. So, the owner knows what and how much he owns. Land Registry allocates an official plan with each title number and thus reflects the position on the ground more accurately than the traditional deeds paper.
- Proof of Ownership: If you have registered your land with Land registry, it acts as a proof of ownership over that particular land, even if you have lost your traditional document of deed.
- Saves Time and Money: Conveyancing becomes much easier, faster and less expensive because the boundaries are well defined and your solicitors need not go back and forth with these details. All details pertaining to one title is kept on the HM Land Registry’s Database and thus removes need to store old files and deeds.
- Saves You From Fraud: When a land is registered with the Land Registry, it clearly defines the boundary with the name(s) and address(s) of the owners and thus no-one can claim their right on your share of land.
Privatisation of Land Registry:
The proposal to privatise the 150 year old agency was proposed by the Treasury under the former chancellor George Osborne as a part of £5bn programme. However, the idea to privatise the body which has record the ownership of the properties in UK ever since 1862 was not welcomed by the citizens and as a result of which it was quietly postponed by the government.
One of the major arguments against privatisation of Land Registry was from Public and Commercial Services Union and the words of Mark Serwotka, who was also the general secretary of the union were:
“Homebuyers and owners rely on the Land Registry to provide an impartial professional service and it must remain under public control, free from any profit motive and conflict of interest.
Land Registry, being a public and non-profit organization, employs more than 4,500 civil servants and holds more than 24 million titles for the properties across England and Wales and it was a common feeling that the privatization of approx 150 year old organization will have long-term consequences in terms of losing its credibility amongst its registered users who place a great amount of confidence and trust in it. Although government proposed various plans to privatise the organization, but all of them were met with concerns such as increase in usage charges and the luxury to access some of the data free of cost might not be there.
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