Everything you need to know about registering an unregistered property

There are still quite a number of unregistered properties in certain areas of England and Wales, this is usually because they were purchased many years ago and nothing has happened for a long time to “trigger” first registration such as a change of ownership or a mortgage.

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For you as a purchaser it does not generally make a great deal of difference to the transaction it just means that the solicitor or conveyancer who is acting for you will deal with the transaction in a slightly different way than they would if the property were registered and as the work is more complicated it will take longer to carry out than if the property were registered. It will also result in them having to deal with registration of the property at the land registry on completion of the purchase.

Everything you need to know about unregistered property will be explained in this article.

Topics to be answered in this article

What is an unregistered property?

Unregistered property is property which is not registered at the land registry. What this means is the evidence of title is a bundle of deeds and documents showing how the property has passed from one person to another over time, some of the documents can be very old and difficult to read.

This means that when a solicitor or conveyancer is dealing with an unregistered property they have to read through all of the documents in the bundle separately to make sure that everything is there and they are aware of any restrictions or conditions to do with the property. This information will form small parts of the documents and so a solicitor or conveyancer will know what to look for so that they can report these things to you.

This bundle of deeds together with a new document which transfers the property into your name on completion of your purchase will then have to all be sent to the land registry with an application to register everything there. This can also be dealt with if a property is left to you under their Will and the transfer into the name of the person who has inherited the property is call an Assent.

Any documents which have relevant information that is needed about the property such as restrictions on what you can do the property will be referred to in the new title which usually only consists of a few pages rather than a big bundle of old documents. The land registry may also store copies of some of the documents and just refer to them in the new title with copies of the documents being available to download from the land registry portal.

What is a registered property?

A registered property is one which is recorded at the land registry. The title will be shown on a few pages (sometimes only one page) and will give details of who the current owners are, whether they hold the property as joint tenant or tenants in common together with details of any restrictions and conditions which an owner may have to abide by.

The title will also include a plan of the property showing its boundaries edged in red. Sometimes it will also give information as to who is responsible for the boundaries of the property, but this depends what information was contained in the original bundle of deeds and documents

The title will also show whether there is a mortgage secured against the property.

Why do you need to register a property?

If you own an unregistered property you do not have to wait for a “trigger” event to happen before you can get it registered, it can be done voluntarily.

It is easier to show proof of ownership if a property is registered and therefore this make the process of selling much more streamline and quicker because all of the information is available from the land registry and restrictions and conditions that affect the property can be quickly found. Rather than having to locate the bundle of title deeds and documents first and then someone having to read everything to pick out all the relevant information.

Having the property registered will potentially avoid long delays when you come sell or if you wished to mortgage your property.

The benefits of registering property

  • Safety – registration will safeguard against your title deeds being lost, destroyed, damaged or stolen.
  • Delay in selling your house if there is a discrepancy with the deeds or if there is a missing document you may need to pay for an insurance policy to deal with missing information.
  •  Protect property from fraud – if your property is not registered there is a higher risk of fraud. A fraudster could assume your identity and might be able to sell your property or remortgage it without you knowing.
  • Land registry will have buyers contact details if they need to contact them – when you register your property the land registry will request an address where you can be
    contacted, this can be in addition to the property address that is being registered.
  • Reduced costs – the land registry fee payable to register your property will depend on its value. There is a 25% reduction in their fees if you register voluntarily. But it will also reduce your solicitors fees on a sale as there will be no requirement to review lengthy and complicated deeds and documents.

Are there any risks of buying an unregistered property?

Often unregistered titles contain very old plans showing the boundaries of the property and things are not always as clear as they could be. It can sometimes be difficult from these plans to establish exactly where the boundary lies between you and your neighbour. More modern plans will include a much clearer boundary and will also include a north point. If there is particular uncertainty about this then sometimes it is better to ask for the property to be registered before buying it.

Occasionally there can be documents missing in an unregistered title which leads to uncertainty as to whether they contained any information which you need to know about.

The process of registering a property

In order to register a property you will need to send the title deeds and documents to the land registry together with the most recent Transfer document or if you are voluntarily registering the property you will need to send an up to date valuation of the property.  You will also need to send a list detailing every document that is being sent on a Form DL  and a completed Form FR1 and the land registry fee which is dependent on the purchase price or value of the property.

You will need to make sure you keep certified copies of all of the documents being sent as this will be your only evidence of title should the deeds and documents get lost.

How can Goughs help

If you would like find out if your property is unregistered and would like us to deal with registration for you please call Gill Moore on 01249 450068 or find out more about how our real estate solicitors that can help.

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Author Bio

Alison Parfitt

Prior to joining Goughs Alison worked as an Estate Agent and enjoys all matters relating to property.  She started with Goughs in February 2015 as a Legal Assistant in the Conveyancing Department, in Melksham.  Alison is now studying to become a Licensed Conveyancer and is based in the Calne office assisting with all types of property transactions.  In her new role Alison is looking forward to progressing each transaction from start to finish and interacting with her clients.

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