What are the title deeds in registered and unregistered land?

Strictly speaking, the title deeds are all the documents that constitute proof of the legal ownership of unregistered land and property. They also show past transfers of ownership through gifts, under wills and so on.

However, the vast majority of land in England and Wales is now registered. In December 1990, it became compulsory in England and Wales to register land at HM Land Registry on completion of a transaction, such as a sale and purchase. The official register at the Land Registry constitutes evidence of legal title, so traditional ‘title deeds’ are no longer needed for a sale, transfer, mortgage, and so on.

Registered land

If the land is registered, the title deeds comprise the Official Copies of the registered title, the Title Plan, and any documents referred to in the register, such as an old conveyance. These additional title deeds will usually be available at the Land Registry. The Land Registry keeps a formal record of the legal title to a property in the Title Plan, together with three different registers, namely:

  • Property register;
  • Proprietorship register, and;
  • Charges register.

Title Plan

The plan shows the boundaries to the property, and any other information that helps identify the legal title to the property.

Property register

This defines and describes the property, the address, and the rights benefiting the property such as any rights of way, a lease, and other positive rights attached to this property.

It is common for other documents to also be referred to in the property register. These may, for instance, refer to restrictive covenants, easements and so on. It is important to read the wording of the property register carefully so that you understand the extent of the property.

Proprietorship register

This contains information about who the owner is (the ‘Registered Proprietor’); the class of title (ie. absolute, qualified, possessory, leasehold); and any notices affecting the legal owner’s right to sell, mortgage, and so on.

Charges register

This contains any charges (such as mortgages), and any other third party rights with respect to the property which may adversely affect the owner’s rights.

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For more information on:

  • Unregistered land
  • Conveyance
  • Deeds of easement
  • Mortgage deed
  • Lease