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Friday’s Big Question: What does the Land Registry do?
Earlier this week, we got to grips with exactly what the title deeds of a property are. Today we’re looking at what the Land Registry is – and what it does.
Picture the scene: someone knocks on the door and when you answer they precede to tell you that they own your house. You may have the keys and be living there, but they claim they own it. Okay, this is a pretty unlikely scenario, but how can you prove them wrong?
The answer is, the Land Registry. This is the authority responsible for looking after more than 24 million titles – and if you own a property, one of these title deeds is yours.
Whether you’ve purchased a registered property and taken over ownership, bought a piece of land or even registered an interest that affects a piece of registered land or property, you need to apply to the Land Registry. And if there is a dispute concerning ownership of some land or property – like in the hypothetical situation we ran through earlier – it’s the Land Registry you’ll need to turn to. Should you need copies of the information contained in the Land Register to use as proof of ownership, for example in a court case, you can apply for the documents you need from the authority (you will also need to pay a fee).
When should I register a property?
All land and property must be registered with the Land Registry when it’s bought, given away, inherited, swapped for a different property or mortgaged. Once registered, details about your ownership can be published by the Land Registry.
What’s on the register?
The Land Register contains records of close to every property and land sale that’s taken place in England and Wales since 1993. Details you can expect to find there include the title number of a property, who owns it, what they paid to secure it and whether the mortgage has been paid off.
You can also find information on the boundaries of a property, which might be useful to know if you’re ever involved in a dispute with your neighbours about a shared path, for example. And the register also includes a flood risk indicator, which, as the name suggests, provides information on how at risk a property is of flooding – a factor that might affect your choice of home insurer and the premium you pay.
You may imagine the title deed of your property as being an old scroll covered with beautiful calligraphy. However, the Land Registry has gone digital and now only has paper copies of the deeds of property or land that has been registered for the first time. Instead, they now scan the original copy of the title deeds and then usually return it to the solicitor or conveyancer who had overseen the sale of a house or piece of land.
It’s a good idea to hang on to the title deeds of your home and keep them somewhere safe when you get them. As we mentioned earlier, if you were to end up in a dispute over boundaries, you could refer to the deeds to find out where the legal boundaries are. And if someone really does arrive on your doorstep claiming to own your home, you know what you need to prove your case – your title deeds!