What Is Unregistered Land And Will It Prevent Me From Selling My Home?
When a plot of land is registered with Her Majesty’s Land Registry, it is given its own title register, complete with a unique number. This document verifies who the legal owner is and any other relevant details, such as where the borders lie and whether there are any rights of way.
However, land registration only commenced in 1925 and did not become compulsory until as recently as 1985. This means that approximately 5% of land remains unregistered in the UK. This is usually the case if ownership of the land has not changed either since 1925, or since 1985.
You are still able to buy unregistered land, but first it must go through the process of First Registration. This scheme was introduced in 1985 when land registration was first enforced, and is there to ensure land does not continue to evade the Land Registry’s records.
In order to buy a piece of unregistered land, the seller must collate the original documents of ownership, known as the title deeds. If the property has changed hands in the past fifteen years, the previous title deeds will also need to be obtained to prove the chain of legal ownership.
Once your solicitor is satisfied that everything is in order, an application will be made to the Land Registry. As long as all the legal steps have been taken, the Land Registry will then begin the process of First Registration, naming you as the legal owner.
This can, however, take a considerable amount of time. Indeed, even just finding the original title deeds can cause a set-back, while the legal work involved is much more complex than a normal property transaction.
So if you are buying unregistered land, be sure to factor in a little more time for the paperwork to be finalised and the First Registration of title to be completed. As long as you plan ahead and have an experienced conveyancing solicitor acting on your behalf, you should not run into any problems.
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