Why you Should Register your Unregistered Property without Delay

Recent estimates suggest that more than 10% of Property in England and Wales is unregistered. This means its ownership has not been recorded at HM Land Registry and information about who owns it is not publicly accessible. Ownership of the Property is proved via a packet of deeds and documents.

It is compulsory to register unregistered Property when it changes hands. However, we recommend that if you own unregistered Property you take steps now to register it. There are a number of reasons why applying for voluntary first registration sooner rather than later is a good idea:

  • Your ownership of the Property is proven by the Land Registry. Secure electronic (and state-backed) records show your ownership, and there is no longer any risk to you of your deeds being lost, destroyed or damaged.
  • It is harder for someone else to claim they have an interest in your Property because they have been in possession of it (known as ‘adverse possession’).
  • Title fraud (when someone passes themselves off as the owner of Property and attempts to sell it) is rare but can result in significant losses. It is much harder for it to be committed in connection with registered Property than unregistered. If you do not occupy your Property or you live far away or overseas, we can advise you on steps to take to secure your title against title fraud.
  • Registered Property is quicker and easier to sell, mortgage or lease, than unregistered. It can take several months for the Land Registry to complete a first registration application so it is worthwhile applying for first registration well in advance of needing to enter into any of these transactions.
  • Any rights you may have over neighbouring properties are clearer, and easier to enforce, particularly if the neighbouring property changes hands.
  • Similarly, any rights neighbours may have over your property, or any covenants (promises) binding the use of your Property are clear.
  • The Land Registry will produce a plan to your Property, ensuring the position of your boundaries are clear. If you have in fact been occupying land outside your legal boundaries, registration helps you discover this, and we can advise on what rights you might have over that additional land.
  • If you own the Property jointly, it is clear to all owners how you hold it, and especially what happens if one of you were to die (i.e. whether that person’s interest passes automatically to the other person or can be left to someone else in their Will).
  • If there is any information missing from your deeds we can advise you and work with you to obtain it now.  If the Property is registered after your death by your beneficiaries this can be much harder to do without your first-hand knowledge and experience of the Property.
  • When Property is registered, an address for service for the owner is publicly available. If – for example – a developer is interested in obtaining your Property it is simpler for them to contact you.
  • The Land Registry offers a reduced fee for voluntary registration as opposed to compulsory registration.

At Else, we can assist with the first registration of any Property in England and Wales. Contact Caroline Major at caroline.major@elselaw.co.uk or call 01283 526200 to talk to any member of our property team today for more information.

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