“My lawyer says there are no such things as property deeds anymore as it is now all computerised by the Land Registry.”
This is a very unhelpful reply, and you should not accept it.
Land in England & Wales is either registered at the Land Registry, or it remains unregistered and evidenced by a historical chain of ‘conveyances’ and ‘transfers’ tracing from the one you signed when you bought (which could potentially go back over decades).
If you own unregistered land then you will have property deeds. Your deeds will comprise of a bundle of these conveyances and transfers, as well as Land Charge searches, all of which must start with your names (of course) and trace back to a period of 15 years from today. These deeds are yours, and should be kept in a safe place. Mortgage lenders used to keep them as part of their mortgage security but from around the year 2000 most stopped this practice, and so the whereabouts of unregistered deeds is crucial to ascertain. Did you take possession of them, does your Lender hold them (if earlier than 2000) or did the conveyancer when you bought store them?
However, if you own registered land, then it is true to say that the property deed naming you as owner is now simply a computerised print-out of the centrally held database record at the Land registry. Here is an example: http://www.landregistry.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/4467/Official-copy-sample.pdf
However, ‘property deeds’ in the context of registered land has taken on a wider meaning, now that the historical conveyances and transfers have effectively been replaced by this computerised document. They are now widely accepted to additionally comprise – just like unregistered deeds still do – all of the following which were given to you when you bought:
1. the Property Information Form
2. the Fixtures and Fittings Form
3. any original guarantees
4. any new build warranty (i.e 10 year NHBC, Zurich)
5. any original Planning Permissions
6. any original Building Regulation Consents and sign-off certificates
7. any original utility installation certificates
8. any original electrical inspection reports
9. any original FENSA certificates
10. any original legal indemnity insurance policy
11. any original consents under the covenants in the deeds
12. in Leasehold transactions –
a. the Lease
b. Articles of Association
c. 3 years Service Charge Accounts
d. Management Information & Rules
e. Share certificate
f. Receipted Notice to the landlord of change of ownership/mortgage(s)
As a result, home owners throughout England & Wales should be able to point to where their bundle of ‘property deeds’ are stored as they can be very important documents which can be expensive to reproduce – not least planning documents which can be over £30 each to replace.
When buying a home, always ensure your conveyancing solicitor explains where your bundle of property deeds will end up. Some will agree to store them for you. Most solicitors will be happy to store deeds, even if they did not act for you on the purchase. A far cheaper option than storing them at your bank.