As a solicitor in a rural practice, many of my clients own land that has been held by the family for generations. With no recent dealings in the land, it is not uncommon to find the legal title to the land remains unregistered at the Land Registry. This does come as a surprise given the advantages registration has.
Before I explain what those advantages to registering your land are, it might first be helpful to explain what ‘registered land’ is. The Land Registry hold an online register documenting what land is held is whose name up and down the country. Where land is registered, each parcel of land is given its own unique title number. That title will describe the property, show an outline of the boundaries on a up-to-date plan, confirm who owns the land (including the full name and address of each legal owner) and where appropriate, detail what rights and encumbrances the land has the benefit of or remains subject to.
Where land remains unregistered, there is a gap in the Land Registry’s records and unless you own the land in question and have retained your title deeds, it can be very difficult indeed to establish the boundaries of a title and who the current owner is.
So why should somebody register their land at the Land Registry? The answer is for various reasons: -
Once registered, the Land Registry will reproduce the boundaries of what you own on a modern Ordnance Survey map. Up to date mapping is much clearer to interpret than the verbal descriptions found in historic Indentures (perches and rods anyone?) or the crude hand-drawn plans contained in some old conveyances (where the boundaries more often than not resemble a drawing by my one year old daughter than a detailed boundary plan!)
Having a good quality plan of your land is essential and particularly useful when you come to sell / develop your land in the future or you find yourself in the unfortunate position of having to deal with a boundary dispute.
Once registered, you will no longer incur time and expense of having to find your old title deeds or the further delay having to trawl through same (which, if you can find them, can be very old and fragile). Multiple copies of your registered title can be obtained quickly and with minimal cost from the Land Registry website. This can be helpful where, for example, a neighbour has questioned a boundary and you wish to deal with the matter quickly or you are looking to enter into a Section 106 agreement with the local authority have been asked by the council to deduce your title.
Protection against Squatters
Where an application is made by a third party to the Land Registry for ownership of some land that does not technically belong to them, there is a probability that such an application will be more successful if it involves unregistered land. This is because the Land Registry do not know who owns the unregistered land and they are unable to notify the owner. By comparison, when land is registered and a claim by a squatter is made, the Land Registry will notify the landowner, provide them with a copy of the application made and an opportunity to object.
Don’t dither and delay and get your land registered! My firm has an excellent agricultural / property department who are able to assist with such applications.
For further information please get in touch with Oliver Riley on 01845 522324 (Thirsk).
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