Land Registry Title Deeds
This article describes the two main Documents of Title, the Title Register and Title Plan (often referred to as Title Deeds) and describes the contents of each in detail, providing sample extracts to help with the description.
Modern Title Deeds, in actuality, are the Land Registry ownership documents, i.e. the Title Register and the Title Plan, although many people still refer to them as Land Registry Title Deeds. Title Deeds is the expression given to the Conveyancing Deeds, and which, formerly, were the documents of title, before property became registered.
Land Registry records are now held digitally and copies of the primary registration documents can be obtained speedily and whenever required.
The Title Register will, in its opening headings, state the Title Number, the name of the Land Registry that maintains the record for the particular property and that it is an official copy of the Title Register (which means that it is authentic evidence of ownership).
Sample opening headings of Title Register
Thereafter, the remainder of the Register is divided into 3 sections, or registers:
A Register - This is the Property Register and provides a description of the land and estate comprised in the title.
B Register - This is the Proprietorship Register and provides the class of title, ownership details and entries affecting the right of disposal.
C Register - This is the Charges Register, and provides details of charges encumbering the property and any other matters affecting the land.
Sample extract from the A Register:
Property Address and Reference to Title Plan
Normally, this will consist of the property's postal address and a reference to the title plan, as demonstrated in the example above. The reference to the title plan is important as it more fully describes the property. The plan shows the property extent, and would include a garage or parking space that may be detached from the main property curtilage and may in fact be separated therefrom by a road.
Where there is no postal address there is greater reliance on the plan to confirm the location of the property, as would be the case with a field.
It is wise to read both the register and the plan together for an accurate description of the property address.
There are three types of property tenure in England and Wales, namely Freehold, Leasehold and Commonhold. Commonhold hardly exists, and so most of the time the tenure will refer to either freehold or leasehold. The freehold tenure is more properly known as the freehold estate, and the leasehold as the leasehold estate or Term of Years.
Ownership of the freehold tenure is more or less having the outright ownership of the land. The owner of a freehold estate may divide the land to create one or more leasehold estates. He does this by creating a lease, from which the Land Registry create a leasehold title. Where this occurs the land may have a freehold estate and a leasehold estate. The leasehold estate is always for a smaller portion of the original land, and will subsist for a number of years, depending on the length of the lease.
Date of First Registration
The first date appearing in brackets in Section A is the date the property was first registered at the Land Registry. This date achieves importance in two main areas; the first being the date the property was built, which is often required for insurance or other official purposes. This date will not be later than the date of first registration, and usually it is just before. The second important use of this date is when looking for a prior copy of the register. Prior copies are only available from 1993 onwards. If the date of first registration succeeds this date it will only be possible to search back to the date of first registration, and not back to 1993.
Section A deals with matters that benefit the land. Easements that benefit the land, therefore, appear under this section. Examples of such easements are rights of way, rights of access, and rights of light. Easements will also appear in Section C but such easements in that section relate to the burdening of land, rather than the benefitting of it. For example where a neighbour has a right of way across your land this would appear in the C section of your Register, not the A section, as to you it would be a burden, not a right in your favour.
An easement can only exist between two adjoining properties. Where the easement appears in Section A it is known as the dominant tenement, because it has the benefit of a right over the adjoining neighbour's property. On the title plan it will be shown coloured brown on the adjoining property. In the register the easement will be described as the land tinted or hatched in brown on the title plan.
This is another example of the importance of reading the title register and title plan together, as easements are more clearly seen.
Where the property is leasehold short details of the lease term will be provided, e.g. the date it was created, the initial parties to the lease, and the length it is to run for.
An example of this section of a leasehold register will look similar to the following:
There is often a clause in the A Section excluding from the title any mining and minerals there may be.
Sample of the B section of the register may look as follows:
The full name of the owners and their addresses appear in the B section. Each owner may have up to 3 contact addresses, including an Email address and an address Abroad. The Land Registry will contact the owners at each of these addresses in the event that there is a major disposition affecting the property, and so registering 3 up to date addresses is an excellent method to reduce fraud.
Where you wish to contact a property owner who has moved house without selling the property and fails to notify the Land Registry of his change of address, his registered contact details will be out of date. In these circumstances, you may wish to send a stamped addressed envelope and letter to the mortgagee listed in the C section of the Register and request them to forward a letter to him.
Class of Title
The best class of freehold title is Absolute Freehold. This is outright ownership of the property. Where the person applying for registration of title is unable to produce a good root of title, e.g. because some of the deeds required to check ownership back for at least 15 years are missing, then he may be given a Qualified title. This is rare, but it still happens. A Possessory title would be given where a person is in possession of the property but does not have deeds on first registration to establish title. This may occur where deeds have been lost or misplaced or where the applicant is in adverse possession (exercising a squatter's "right").
The best class of leasehold title is Absolute Leasehold. Where the owner of the freehold has not himself applied for registration then the Land Registry, being unable to inspect the freehold title, will only provide a Good Leasehold title. This is still a good title, but often causes problems with mortgagees who may require indemnity insurance.
Date of Registration of Current Owner
The first date appearing in parenthesis in the B section of the register is the date that the current owner was registered. This is usually 2-6 weeks after completing the purchase of the property.
The purchase price is shown in the section of the register for all properties purchased after April 2000, following Rule 8 (2) of the Land Registration Rules 2003, which applied retrospectively in regard to the purchase price. If the property was purchased for consideration other than money then an estimate of value must be given and registered instead.
Restrictions on Power of Sale
A common form of restriction is where two or more persons own the property as tenants in common, as opposed to beneficial joint tenants. As tenants in common they would be individually entitled to a fixed share of equity in the property. A restriction is therefore registered in the B section of the Register to prevent the sale of the property without the consent of each owner, or a court order.
Sample extract from B section of Register showing the entry for a Restriction:
Positive covenants do not run with the land as restrictive covenants do, i.e. a restrictive covenant binds all owners of the land, current and future, whereas a positive covenant binds only the current owner. For this reason positive covenants are listed in the B section of the register, rather than the C register (the C register deals with burdens affecting the property itself).
Sample personal covenant (extract from B section of the Register)
There are two types of notices - agreed notices and unilateral notices. The purpose of a notice is to provide notice to third parties that the right to sell or mortgage is constrained. A charging order obtained by a creditor to secure a debt is secured by a unilateral notice.
Subsisting mortgages and charges appear in this section of the Register, which is officially known as the "C Charges Register". Subsisting means that only the mortgages and charges currently affecting the property will appear. Any such which have been redeemed (paid off) will be removed, and a fresh copy of the Register produced
Sample of the C section may look as follows:
Restrictive Covenants will be detailed in this section as they are a burden on the property. Some properties have a vast number of covenants, in which case they are often contained within a schedule at the end of the section, for ease of reference.
Features of the Title Plan
All registered land must comply with the land Registration Rules 2003. Rule 5 thereof states that the property description in the title register should refer to a plan based on the Ordnance Survey map and that it should be known as the title plan.
The title plan always has north to the top, confirmed by an arrow pointing north and shown at the top of the plan.
All title plans fall within 1 of 3 scales used by the Land Registry and the scale is shown at the top of the title plan. They are usually provided on A4 size paper. The scales are as follows:
- Urban Areas - scale of 1:1250
- Rural Areas - scale of 2:500
- Remote Rural Areas - scale of either 1:5000 or 1:10000, depending on how remote the property is.
All registered properties have their own title number. That shown on the corresponding title register is the same as that shown on the title plan. The administrative area is also shown near to the title number.