Unregistered deeds - have you lost the plot?

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Nearly 70 per cent of land in England and Wales belongs to people who have 'registered' their deeds with the Land Registry, and which have now been replaced by computerised records held centrally at the Land Registry, and whose records and the accuracy of which are guaranteed by the Government.

Historic mistakes by conveyancing solicitors in edging the boundaries of neighbouring plots of land (even the simple thickness of a red felt tip) on a small scale plan could have inadvertently given your neighbour a chunk of your land because their deeds went off to the Land Registry first.

The worrying thing is, more than 30 per cent of land in England and Wales is still owned by people who have their ownership recorded by a multitude of historical deeds that they may store privately, potentially exposing them to the loss of their land, the risk of theft, destruction or loss. Their neighbours may already have long since been registered with the same land within these hidden away deeds.

Could this be you?

But making an application to the Land Registry for voluntary registration of your deeds can help stop this happening. The Land Registry even recognise the problem and offer a 25% reduced fee for making such an application to them, plus a recently introduced further £10 discount.

But the benefits of registration do not stop there:

-  Chancel Repair liability will no longer bind purchasers of Registered Land after October 2013 if the Church fail to apply to record the liability on the registered deeds. There will be no such protection for land owners with unregistered deeds.

-  Registration helps to protect land from encroachment by neighbours.

-  It enables you to identify your landholdings and simplify your deeds - making ongoing management easier.

-  It provides simpler access to your land ownership details in the future - this is useful when it comes to selling or should anyone else make a claim.

-  We anticipate over the next decade the Government will introduce 'electronic conveyancing' and this will only be possible with registered land. Being unregistered will cause delay.

-  It consolidates and stores relevant information in one place.

-  Potential buyers increasingly expect land to be registered before buying.

-  Some conveyancing solicitors have higher conveyancing quotes if the land is unregistered (their poor legal training passed on at the public’s expense).

-  Even if you have lost your unregistered deeds or have difficulty proving your land ownership, you may still be able to register your land.

And registration means there is a central Government backed record of your deeds which you can never 'lose' as you can with unregistered deeds.