Registering Unregistered Land

How to Register Unregistered Land 

What is Unregistered Land?

In 1997 the Land Registration Act introduced the compulsory registration of land purchased after this date.  This meant that the documents for any land purchased after this date were sent to the Land Registry by solicitors, to be entered onto the public record.  If land was purchased before this date, owners could volunteer to register their land. 

Is Unregistered Land Bad?

Unregistered land is not necessarily bad, it may just be a result of a previous owner having purchased the land prior to 1997 and never having registered it.  Often people inherit land from a relative who did not register their lands with the Land Registry, and in these cases purchasers and solicitors may require the land to be registered before completion of the purchase.

It is important to consult a solicitor when purchasing unregistered land to ensure that the necessary documents can be obtained and that you will be able to register the land with the Land Registry without problems.

Documents Required

To complete a First Registration, it is important to locate all the deeds of the property.  The deeds are all the documents relating to the property which can be used to show the Land Registry the chain of ownership and the current owner’s right to purchase and sell the land.  Therefore, the deeds should include all documents such as conveyances, transfers, grants of probate and anything else from which the Land Registry can deduce title.  If the property is leasehold, you will need to submit a copy of the lease.

Any Memoranda’s will need to be included with the documents submitted to the Land Registry, as they show any parcels of land sold or subdivided.  Any mortgage notes, loan s and confirmations of payment should also be included.  You will also need to show that Stamp Duty has been paid with each exchange of ownership, normally you will find a confirmation stamp on each conveyance.

These deeds will also refer to restrictions or rights regarding the property which the Land Registry will then insert on the registered title.  These rights and restrictions follow the land and they are important for each owner to be aware of.

It is important also to have the plan of the land.  Often this can be found in the original conveyance or Root of Title (see next paragraph), if it is not included in a recent transaction.  This plan will be used by the Land Registry to determine the boundaries of the land being registered.

Root of Title

If you read through your contract, it is likely that it will refer to an original conveyance dated much earlier.  This is often named the ´Root of Title´ and it is from this original conveyance that any restrictions or rights regarding the property are referred to.  It is important to locate this conveyance and each of the subsequent conveyances, transfers or grants of probate to which it refers.  It is important to be able to trace the original purchase to the current owners purchase as this is the chain the Land Registry will be looking for.

Epitome of Title

An Epitome of Title is the document or table which lists all the deeds regarding the property in date order beginning with the Root of Title.  The Epitome is important as it sets out clearly for the Land Registry, the chain of ownership.  It also enables you to organise your deeds and ensure you have everything necessary.  If you have recently inherited land, or are seeking to register land which has remained unregistered, you may find an original Epitome of Title which will make registration easier for you as you will only need to ensure it is up to date and complete.

However, if you are creating your own Epitome, then you need only set out the date, title and parties involved in a separate table and then enter in the details from your deeds.  You will need to show at least 15 years of ownership.

First Registration with the Land Registry

A FR1 form can be downloaded from the Land Registry website which you need to complete and submit to the Land Registry along with the Epitome of Title and any payment as required.  An up to date list of fees can be obtained from the Land Registry website, or you can contact your local office.

Be careful to ensure that your correct contact information is recorded on the FR1 Form, as the Land Registry may need to contact you for further information.

After Registration

The Land Registry will advise you if they require further documentation, or if your registration has been successful.  When registration is complete they will send you a copy of the Registered Title.  It is important that you check the details carefully, such as the spelling of your name, the location of the property and the correct dates. This information will be important for when you sell the property in the future.  It is also important to check that you have been granted Absolute Title which you should if your deeds proved absolute ownership of the property.

If the property has been inherited or the chain of title is incomplete you will not receive Absolute Title.  Also, if the property is Leasehold depending on whether the Freehold Title has been registered with the Land Registry you may not be able to obtain Absolute Title.