The Risks Of Unregistered Property
What To Do If Your Property’s Not On The Land Registry
Are you worried about owning (or purchasing) unregistered properties?
The Land Registry plays a crucial role in ensuring the ownership and protection of properties in England and Wales.
However, not all properties are registered with the Land Registry, which can pose significant risks to property owners.
In this blog, we will explore the challenges and consequences of having an unregistered property and provide guidance on what to do if your property is not on the Land Registry.
The History of Land Registration
The Land Registry introduced compulsory registration in the Eastbourne area in 1926, but it wasn’t until 1990 that this requirement extended to all regions in England and Wales.
Even then, certain transactions, such as Assents (transfers of land from a deceased owner to their beneficiaries), only became compulsory to register in 2003.
Consequently, properties that have not changed hands for many years, especially before 1 March 1977 in Worthing, may still be unregistered.
The Risks of Unregistered Properties
Loss of Title Deeds
One of the most significant risks associated with unregistered properties is the potential loss of title deeds.
Title deeds serve as absolute proof of ownership; without them, establishing ownership becomes challenging.
Over time, these important documents can be lost, misplaced, thrown away, or even stolen.
If unregistered title deeds are lost, the Land Registry requires a high standard of alternative evidence of ownership, which can result in substantial delays, particularly when trying to sell the property.
Adverse possession is a legal concept allowing an individual to claim ownership of unregistered land if they have been in possession for at least 12 years, subject to specific conditions.
If the land were registered with the Land Registry, notice would be sent to the registered owner, providing an opportunity to object.
However, with unregistered land, the Land Registry does not know who the owner is, making it vulnerable to adverse possession claims.
This poses a risk of losing part of your land and opens the door to fraudulent claims.
Property fraud is a growing concern in recent years. When the Land Registry receives a suspicious application, they attempt to contact the registered owner.
However, determining the owner’s identity becomes challenging if the property is not registered.
This lack of registration makes it easier for fraudulent activities to go undetected.
Fortunately, once a property is registered with the Land Registry, property owners can take additional steps to protect against fraud by signing up for the Land Registry’s Property Alert service, which provides email notifications of any activity regarding the property’s title.
What to Do If Your Property Is Unregistered
Discovering that your property is unregistered with the Land Registry can be a cause for concern.
As mentioned above, unregistered properties come with various risks and challenges. But there are steps you can take to address the situation.
The first step is to confirm whether your property is indeed unregistered.
You can do this by checking with the Land Registry.
They maintain records of all registered properties in England and Wales.
You can request an official copy of your title deeds and land registry documents to verify the registration status of your property.
To mitigate the risks associated with unregistered properties, consider voluntarily registering your property with the Land Registry.
Voluntary registration provides several benefits, including clear proof of ownership, protection against adverse possession claims, and increased security against property fraud.
You can apply for voluntary registration through the Land Registry’s official website or consult with a legal professional to guide you through the process.
Consider legal advice
Navigating the complexities of property registration can be challenging, especially if you’re unsure about the process or your property’s history.
It’s advisable to consult with a qualified solicitor or conveyancer who specialises in property law.
They can provide expert guidance, assist with the registration process, and address any specific concerns related to your property.
The Land Registry plays a vital role in safeguarding property ownership and preventing fraudulent activities.
If your property is not registered with the Land Registry, you must be aware of the associated risks and take proactive steps to address them.
By voluntarily registering your property, you can protect your ownership rights and enjoy greater security in your real estate investments.
If you are unsure whether your property is registered with the Land Registry or would like to discuss property matters further, please do not hesitate to contact Bennett Griffin LLP.
Our experienced team of residential property law experts is here to provide guidance and support to protect your property interests.