Who Lived in my House?
The focus of this article is on how to obtain copies of documents from the Land Registry that show prior ownerships of a property. Title Registers, which are the main ownership documents, only show current details, the information relating to previous ownerships having been removed. Copies of Prior Title Registers are available and also copies of the old house Deeds.
Documents Containing Past Ownerships
All new house owners are interested in knowing who has lived in their property before them; this is human nature. In today's modern digital age it is a simple matter to obtain this information from the comfort of your home, simply by obtaining one or more of the following documents online:
- Land Registry Title Register
- Prior Edition of the Title Register
- Copies of the Conveyancing Deeds
- Extracts from the Electoral Register
Current Title Register
The current Title Register will contain the name and address of the present owner. This is what is known as a "subsisting entry", which simply means that it states the current position, or the current owner, and does not show details of previous owners. The Land Registry show subsisting entries only in the Title Register, so that there is no confusion as to current ownerships, mortgages, covenants, etc., and to reduce the amount of unnecessary information.
Prior Editions of the Title Register
Land Registry customers often have a need to check on previous ownerships, and even where there is no need, they often wish to know out of curiosity. As the current Register shows only subsisting entries the Land Registry have made available older copies of the Title Register back to 1993, or to the date the property was first registered, whichever of these dates is the later.
Applying for a Prior Edition of the Register will provide you with a copy of the Title Register as at the date you select, which in turn will show the subsisting entries at that date. This will include the name and address of the owners at that time, and their mortgagees, and may also include the purchase price paid at the time of their purchase.
This Register will also state the date upon which they purchased the property (first date in brackets in the B section of the Register, as in the sample below), and the date the property first became registered (first date in brackets in the A section).
Sample extract from B section of Title Register
If you wish to know the owner before the person listed in the Prior Copy you can obtain another Prior Copy for a date before his purchase. In the example above this would be a date prior to November 1999. You can do this as often as you wish but with the caveat that you cannot go back earlier than 1993, nor earlier than the date of first registration.
Prior to compulsory land registration all ownership records consisted of Deeds, primarily conveyances and transfers. Ownership documents are still transacted using transfer deeds. The Land Registry create the actual ownership document from this. This is the Title Register, or Property Information Sheet.
Even though conveyancing deeds are no longer necessary to prove ownership, they still retain a useful purpose, providing details of boundaries, covenants, easements, restrictions, etc. The Land Registry have digitised many of these documents and the Register is noted whenever this occurs, so that the existence of the document is known. Noting its existence on the Register means that a copy of it is available to purchase.
Of particular interest to the reader will be the copies of the conveyances and transfers. Prior Copies of the Register can only be obtained prior to 1993. As conveyances and transfers contain the names of the vendors and purchasers (and usually their solicitors), this enables customers to search back for even earlier ownerships.
The electoral register does not provide ownership information, but it does provide details of persons living at a property at the time of the annual census. This will include owners, tenants and lodgers.
Searches that provide Past Ownership Information:
Prior Title Register
- Prior Title Register as at the date specified
- Conveyancing Deeds (optionally)
- Current Title Register (optionally)
Prior Copies Search (with or without the Conveyancing Deeds).
House and Land History Search
- Current Title Register
- Current Title Plan
- All Prior Copies of the Title Register, however many there are
- All digitally held Conveyances and Transfers
- Extract from Historic Records of the Property
- Additional Options:
- Census Records - every 10th year from 1841 to 1911 inclusive (£20 per census search - specify which decades)
- Electoral Records - annually from 1918 to date (£12 extra per search - specify years)
House and Land History Search.