Land Registry Ownership History
House owners have always been interested in the history of their home, and some properties have very interesting histories. For many, though, the ownership history of a home might have a more pecuniary interest, e.g. to support a claim for a mis-sold mortgage or insurance policy. The focus of this article is on the latter, i.e. obtaining copies of Title Registers of fairly recent date.
Most of the properties in England and Wales are now registered at the Land Registry, and each of these has a unique registered Title, together with a Title Number that identifies the property interest from all other Titles. There may, of course, be more than one Title for the same property, e.g. where the property has a freehold ownership and the freeholder has divided the property into flats, each with its own leasehold Title. Every registered Title will have its own Title Register, even if it relates to the same property, so that in the above example the freeholder will have a Title Register that describes what he owns, and each leaseholder will have a Title Register that describes what they each own.
The Title Register is the main ownership document for a registered property. In order to attach some sort of simplicity and ease of reference to a Title Register it shows only subsisting entries, i.e. it shows who the current registered owner is, but not previous owners. In the same way it shows who the current mortgagees and chargees are, but not those which have been redeemed and removed from the Title. Again, Notices that affect a property owner's rights (such as one that secures a judgment debt) will only be shown if they are still current, and not if they have been removed.
Prior Copies of the Title Register
In recognising that property owners often have a use for checking on previous ownerships or former mortgages, provision has now been made to obtain earlier editions of the Title Register, dating back to April 1993, or the date of first registration, which is the later.
To obtain an earlier copy it may be necessary to provide a date upon which to obtain it. Earlier copies will show entries subsisting at the date the copy is applied for, and so, if the exact date is not known to you, there is a recognised method of searching backwards to ascertain the date required.
Obtaining an Earlier Edition of the Title Register
When applying for a Prior Copy of the Title Register you have the following options:
1. Obtain a copy of the Title Register immediately before the current one, or
2. Provide a date to obtain a copy for
It may sometimes be awkward for you to work out the date the search is required for, and the dates between which a search is available. The following hints may help you:
A. The date of first registration of the property is shown on the current Title Register and on all previous copies. You cannot search back beyond this date as the Land Registry would not have known about it prior to first registration. This date is usually the first date in brackets in the A section of the Title Register.
Sample extract from the A section of a Title Register showing the date of First Registration.
B. You cannot search for an earlier edition during a period when the current ownership was subsisting. The date of registration of the current ownership is the first date in brackets in the B section of the Title Register. This date differs with each ownership, unlike the date of first registration.
Sample extract from the B section of a Title Register showing the date of Registration of the owner referred to.
The dates above define the maximum parameters of your search, ie. the earliest date to search backwards, and the latest date.
3. If you require a number of earlier editions the suggested way of doing so is to first obtain a copy of the edition immediately prior to the current ownership. The date of registration of that earlier edition is the first date in brackets in the B section of that Register. So you should select a date earlier than this. Further copies can be obtained in this manner, one at a time.
Property History during a period Prior to First Registration or Prior to 1993
When you are unable to search further back, either because the property was not registered at the date you wish to search back to, or the date is prior to 1993, you can obtain a limited amount of prior ownership history by obtaining copies of the unregistered ownership deeds.
Conveyancing involves the preparation of a Transfer, or, in older times, a Conveyance. These are the purchase deeds. Purchase deeds contain the names and addresses of the vendors (sellers) and the purchasers, near to the commencement of the deed.
When a property is registered the Land Registry have copies of all the deeds making up a good root of title, i.e. an unbroken and unfettered chain of ownership that stretches back at least 15 years. In practice this period may stretch back a lot further, e.g. where an ownership subsisted without change for a long period. The Land Registry will also have copies of other deeds that contain details of covenants and easements affecting the property. If, at the time of first registration, they consider a deed has useful information that should be available if required, they will scan a copy and note the register that a copy of that deed has been made.
Where this is the case you will be able to obtain copies of the conveyancing Deeds by applying for a Conveyancing Deeds Search. Alternatively, there is an option when purchasing a Prior Copies Search, to add this to the search.
Sample extract from a Conveyance made in 1978 which has been copied in to a registered Title:
Mis-sold Mortgages and Insurance Policies
Many of our customers are more interested in the history of mortgages that have encumbered a property, rather than the history of ownership. This is usually to provide the necessary details to support a claim for compensation against a mortgagee or an insurance company for mis-selling a policy to them. The C section of the Title Register provides details of the mortgages subsisting at the date of the Title Register being looked at. The name and address of the mortgagee will be given, together with the date of registration of the mortgage.
Sample extract from the C Section of a Title Register showing a registered mortgage:
In this sample both the date of the mortgage (or charge) and the date of its registration are provided.