Why is the land registry so important?

If this is your first time buying or selling a property, you may not have come across the Land Registry before. Understanding the requirements of the Land Registry can be complex but it’s important to make sure that these are followed to make your buying or selling journey as smooth as possible.

What is the Land Registry?

The Land Registry was established in 1862, however, prior to the year 1925 and the introduction of the Land Registration Act, land in England and Wales was largely unregistered. That meant that ownership of land, and boundaries around properties, could be difficult to distinguish. Since 1990 however, it has been compulsory to register properties in England and Wales with the Land Registry. So, if you’re buying or selling (or have been gifted) a property, it’s now a legal requirement to register the property and any changes to ownership, boundaries and so forth, with the Land Registry. Once registered, you will be provided with a Title Document which outlines ownership and a title plan which shows the boundaries of the land or property.

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What are the benefits of the Land Registry?

Registering land is a legal requirement but there are numerous advantages to making sure the process has been completed:

1. First and foremost, the Land Registry provides legal evidence of ownership of land and property. HM Land Registry reports that electronic records are now the default so there are no concerns about keeping a paper document safe. It also outlines all of the boundaries of the properties so it’s clear which elements belong to you and any portions which might be impacted by footpaths, rights of way, and restrictive covenants.

2. Should any disputes arise with your neighbours over boundary lines, upkeep of fences, parking spaces and so on, your title will clearly demonstrate the limits of your property and who is responsible for what. Registering with the Land Registry also provides a clear record of ownership and who will benefit if the property is sold. This can be useful after a divorce, for example, when one partner may continue living in the property to co-parent children but will not receive a share of any profits if the property were to be sold. In this case, it can be important to ask your solicitor about completing a declaration of no interest in property which confirms who would receive monies should the property be sold. Solicitors firms, such as Parachute Law, can do this quickly and easily.
3. Registering your property makes it easier to sell in the future, speeding up the entire process and saving you valuable time.

When do I need to register property with the Land Registry?

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In the majority of cases, when you’re purchasing a new home, the land and property will have already been registered with the Land Registry. This means that it’s only necessary to update the current details with the names of the new owners. If your property is one of the estimated 15% of properties not registered with the Land Registry, however, you can apply for first registration at any time. If you’re buying a property that is not registered, it is the responsibility of your conveyancer to complete the registration as an integral part of the conveyancing process.

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