Unregistered property: how to register unregistered property and why you should

Year Published: 2018

In the UK it’s been compulsory to register unregistered property and land since 1925 under the Land Registration Act 1925, this was replaced by the Land Registration Act 2002. Despite this there is still plenty of unregistered property out there ripe for registering and the benefits of registering most certainly out way the costs involved.

What’s classed as unregistered property?

James Procter, Commercial Property Solicitor at SAS Daniels LLP

James Procter, Commercial Property Solicitor

This could be a house, shed, garage, public house, grass land, farm land, a car park and so on. It is essentially any property that is legally owned, however, has not yet been registered with the Land Registry online in the true owners name. The owner will often have paper Title Deeds to the property, showing how they came to acquire it and from who.

As a result of only having the paper Title Deeds, the ownership has never actually been entered into the property register at the Land Registry and is therefore unregistered.

Why register unregistered property?

The benefits of registering your property are:

  1. Cost: Registered properties are typically simpler to transfer given the matters effecting the property are on one single document, the Title Register, instead of strewn across multiple old and original Title Deeds. As a result of the time saved, you can often save on legal fees. 
  1. Speed: If you are selling your property, your purchaser may feel reluctant to purchase unregistered property and may request you register it first. Likewise, when purchasing unregistered property, you will be responsible for the registration afterwards, which can take several months. If this is done in advance, the transfer of a registered title often only takes a few weeks. 
  1. Security: It is less likely for people to encroach on your land if it is shown as registered on Land Registry maps. Unregistered properties also have less protection making it easier for fraudsters to illegally deal with a property. 
  1. Lenders: Most lenders are more willing to lend against registered properties than unregistered properties, therefore it will make it easier for the property owner to secure a loan or mortgage.

How to register an unregistered property:

Compulsory registration:

Since 1925, on a gradual area by area basis, it has been a requirement of the Land Registry that when a property is “dealt with”,  the change of ownership is officially registered and the new owner is given official title documentation to confirm their ownership, currently known as a Title Register and Title Plan. This registration became compulsory countrywide in 1990.

There are several ways in which a property can be “dealt with” that trigger compulsory registration, these are:

  • Transfer of Freehold Estate (Sale or Purchase);
  • Transfer of a Leasehold Estate with over 7 years remaining (Assignment);
  • Grant of a new lease of 7 years or over;
  • Grant of first legal mortgage on an unregistered property;

Therefore if an unregistered property is “dealt with” in one the above manners, it will be a legal requirement that the property is registered online at the Land Registry as part of the process.

If the property is not being “dealt with”, you can choose to voluntarily register the property.

Voluntary registration:

You don’t have to wait for a situation to occur to register your property. You can get ahead and reap the benefits of registering your property by making a voluntary first registration application.

If you have your Title Deeds, we can piece together how you have come to own the property from these documents, we can then submit an application to the Land Registry for you and in return provide you with an official copy of the Title Register, showing you as the register owner of the property.

How straight forward this procedure is depends on the Title Deeds provided. The process can take anywhere between a month and up to three months to be processed by the Land Registry once submitted. They will speed up matters in the specific circumstances that the registration of the unregistered property is holding up a current sale or purchase.

For more information on unregistered property and the registration process , please contact James Procter in our commercial property team on 0161 475 7648 or [email protected]

Are you looking to register unregistered land?

Read our blog on “Unregistered land and unclaimed land: how to register or claim it” to find out more about registering land.

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