For people who are lucky enough to be property owners, the idea of “deeds” is deep-rooted. I’ve lost count of the number of people who have talked to me about “getting their deeds” back when they finally pay their mortgage off, or have spoken about whose names are “on the deeds”.
Yet for most property owners, there is no such things as deeds any more.
Yet for most property owners, there is no such things as deeds any more. The great majority of houses are now registered at the Land Registry, a process that – amazingly – started in 1925. By December 1990 the last areas of the country (including Malvern) were brought in to the system. If your property has changed hands since then, the traditional stack of documents that you mustn’t lose has been replaced by a Government printout. Until 15 years ago the Land Registry would issue you with a copy of your title in a cumbersome official A3 folder (either pale blue, or buff coloured), but from 2003 even that disappeared. There is now no single document that you have to guard as evidence of ownership; instead, your proof consists of a printout that anyone can download, and whatever evidence you can muster that you are the person named.
A lot else has changed. The Land Registry is now a public, open register. Anyone can look at any title – whereas when I started in the law, the first step in a house sale was for the owner to give written permission to the buyers to inspect the register. House price information is public. And most of our dealings with the Land Registry are entirely electronic. We scan and upload documents, receive e-mailed queries and respond, all online. There is also a brilliantly useful “Mapsearch” facility, where we can view on screen a jigsaw-like map of all registered titles, which is very useful not only for dealing with those properties that are still unregistered (a surprising number in Malvern) but also for spotting small pieces of land accidentally left behind as a result of registration errors.
You might think that the wonderful Land Registration process has eliminated boundary errors and disputes – alas, it isn’t so. I’ll cover that in a later article.
Paytons Solicitors March 9th, 2019
Posted In: Blog