Registration of land: Why you should consider a voluntary application
Head of Conveyancing Kathryn Hill explains the background to land registration and the benefits of voluntarily registering your land.
Background to Registration
Before legislation regarding registration of land was enacted, all land was unregistered.
This meant that owners of land were required to keep deeds and documentation relating to their ownership safe, in order to produce them should they wish to dispose of the land or should any dispute arise.
Ownership was evidenced through the presentation of these deeds and documents. Clearly, this could prove to be problematic if an owner mislaid their deeds and documents, or they were destroyed through flooding or a fire for example.
In 1990, it was compulsory across the whole country for land to be registered upon ‘dealing with’ or ‘disposing of’ land.
Later legislation, the Land Registration Act 2002, further expanded upon the triggers requiring registration of land.
Registration is now required where you have:
- Mortgaged the land;
- Inherited it;
- Been gifted it;
- Bought it; or
- Received the land in exchange for other land or property.
Even where none of the above triggers apply, a person is able to register their land through a voluntary application to the Land Registry.
Over 80% of land is now registered since legislation came into force.
Making a Voluntary Application
A voluntary application to register land is a relatively simple process. An owner will be asked to provide all deeds and documents they currently hold to their solicitor who will review these documents to check the chain of ownership of the land.
An application will then be submitted to the Land Registry and the land registered in the owner’s name. Upon successful registration, the owner will be provided with a copy of the land’s title information document.
Land Registry Fees for the voluntary application range from £30 to £680 depending on the value of the land. The fees payable upon voluntary registration are discounted in order to provide an incentive to register land early.
Benefits of a Voluntary Application
Voluntarily registering land has multiple benefits:
- Firstly, registering your land safeguards ownership. Upon registering the land, ownership details will be held on a central register. This means that proving ownership will be easier and will no longer rely upon holding physical deeds and documents.
- The production of a guaranteed title document for land means that less paperwork is involved. The title will show the owners of the land, benefits attached to the land such as access across neighbouring properties as well as the burdens and any charges over the land. Essentially all formal agreements should be included in one document rather than spanning across several separate agreements. This means disputes regarding relating to your land can be more easily investigated.
- A voluntary application can provide for earlier identification of issues relating to ownership allowing these to be resolved prior to selling land, being free from the pressure of completion deadlines.
- As a result of owners being identifiable on the central register, the Land Registry will be able to contact you direct should any claim be made against your land as opposed to being an unidentified owner of unregistered land.
- The Land Registry adhere to strict identification procedures and therefore registered land is less likely to be targeted than unregistered land.
If you have any queries regarding the information covered in this blog or wish to discuss making a voluntary application please contact Kathryn at the details below.
About the author
Partner Kathryn Hill is Head of the Conveyancing team.