Land Registry and First Registration Explained
The Land Registry is a government organisation set up in 1862 to make sure there is a reliable record of information about the ownership of land and property in England and Wales, including any interests that affect it. The Land Registry also gives owners a land title guaranteed by the government and provides a title plan indicating general boundaries.
All land or property must be registered with Land Registry. This includes land or property that you:
- Were given
- Exchanged for other property or land
All registered property will be published online and will include the names of the owners, the price paid for the property and plans of the boundaries. You can’t opt-out of your property information being published on the Land Registry.
A property may not be registered if you (or someone else) owned it before 1990 and there’s not been a mortgage on it since then.
If the property you have bought is not registered, if you already own an unregistered property or if you want to apply for a mortgage on a previously unregistered property you will need to register it with the Land Registry. Even if none of these situations apply, you can voluntarily register the property.
When a loved one dies it can be upsetting having to deal with their estate. It can become more distressing if the property is unregistered and you have to locate the deeds to start registration. If you know that there is a property that may be unregistered in your family, do some research and complete voluntary first registration as soon as you can.
One of the big risks with unregistered land is that the rules for adverse possession are different. Adverse possession is when someone claims property rights on land owned by someone else. This means that you may not have the automatic right to object to an application if your land is unregistered.
Benefits of Voluntarily Registering a Property
There are some benefits to voluntarily registering your property or land with the Land Registry.
By taking this step you can prove your ownership of the land or property and it makes it much easier for you to change, sell or give your property away in the future.
Another benefit of registering your land or property is to protect it from fraud. You can track changes to the register and put restrictions on your title through the Land Registry. All of these steps can help stop fraudsters illegally selling or mortgaging your property. You may be more at risk from property fraud if:
- You’ve had your identity stolen
- Your property is rented out
- You don’t live in the UK
- There’s no one living in the property
- There’s no mortgage on the property
- It’s not registered with Land Registry
What if The Deeds Are Lost?
If all or part of the deeds have been lost or misplaced you can still apply for first registration. This is usually in the form of a Statement of Truth by the person claiming ownership of the property, who will provide an account of events that resulted in the loss of the title deeds. It is crucial that the application is prepared by a Conveyancing Solicitor with experience of first registration to make sure that the application has the best chance of granting ownership.
How to Complete First Registration
There are a number of steps to take. They are:
- Make sure your property or land is not already registered. You can do this by searching the register here. You do need to pay for this service.
- Apply to the Land Charges Department to search against previous owners since 1925. This is to check they have no charges against the property. Complete this form and send it by post, along with the fee.
- Complete the first registration application form. This is called FR1.
- Prepare a scale plan of the outline of the land if this is not shown in the deeds.
- Get the forms you need and complete two copies of the list of documents form, called DL.
- Calculate the correct registration fee, depending on the value of your property.
- Send all the forms, documents and payment to Land Registry.
There are some additional forms needed if you bought an unregistered property or if you inherited it from someone. Your Conveyancing Solicitor can help you with the correct forms.
You can either complete first registration yourself or ask one of our Conveyancing Solicitors to do it for you. You’ll also need some additional documents if you’re completing first registration, particularly if you’re not a legal professional.
As it’s important to get this right, you may prefer to get a Conveyancing Solicitor to complete first registration for you as any mistakes will delay the process, which could have an impact on exchange and completion dates.
Simpson Millar Solicitors are a national law firm with over 500 staff and offices in Bristol, Cardiff, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, London and Manchester.