What are title deeds and why are they needed?
Historically, title deeds were the documents behind a property’s ownership history. Since 2003, title deeds became electronic documents held only by The Land Registry.
Title deeds are necessary to keep track of ownership history relating to any property or land in the UK.
Originally, title deeds used to include: wills, sales contracts, mortgages, leases, restrictions, rights and more.
Once a property or a piece of land was registered for the first time with The Land Registry, these documents were used to create a registered title and a paper certificate was issued to the new owner.
Nowadays, everything is digitalised and no new home or land owner receives a physical paper certificate.
The Land Registry commenced dematerialising paper deeds on the 13th October 2003, since then, property and land registered in the UK is recorded digitally.
Title deeds explained
Title deeds are, of course, essential in the legalities of buying a house and the transfer of title deeds is one of the stages of a successful purchase. Some people may also need to refer to their title deeds when seeking planning permission for certain development projects.
What do title deeds look like?
Since the dematerialising of paper deeds in 2013, new house buyers often ask the question ‘What do title deeds look like?’ It’s likely that any home owner that joined the property ladder after 2013 will never have seen physical title deeds.
Title deeds are, in fact, paper documents that are often scanned to be viewed digitally for practicality. After all, more complications are thrown into the mix if title deeds get lost.
Of course, many title deeds are very old and interesting to look at, particularly if you have recently purchased an older property.
Title deeds denote exactly which areas you are buying, and when you are referring to them during a house purchase, including both the building itself and garden areas.
Where are title deeds kept?
Electronic copies of title deeds are stored by the Land Registry, where they are held in digital format. Rarely does the Land Registry hold original copies of the documents.
Instead, the original title deeds are usually stored with a solicitor or conveyancer who acted on the last sale of the property.
Land registry title deeds
If you would like to see the digital title deeds held by the land registry, then you will need to pay a small fee to release the information.
The title deeds that you request will include Title Plans and Title Registers (if you choose to purchase copies of both). There is also the option of requesting any lease information, and further ways of finding the property within the Land Registry when you are not 100% sure of the address.
Title deeds search with the Land Registry
If you are happy to see scanned copies of your title deeds that have been filed with the land registry, you can search the property register by completing a title deeds search and find the title number of your property. If there are filed title deeds associated with your property’s number and address, you can request a copy.
What if I can’t find my title deeds with the land registry?
The first step to take when you can’t find your title deeds when you do a title deeds search with the land registry is to contact your solicitor who dealt with your house purchase, who may have copies of the original documents.
It is then best to apply to register with the land registry so that the organisation holds a digital copy of your title deeds.
If you’ve contacted the solicitor or conveyancer who dealt with your sale and are now faced with lost title deeds to house, it may be more of a problem to register your property with the land registry, however, it is not impossible.
How to register a property with the land registry despite lost title deeds
If you are dealing with missing title deeds, you can still apply to register a property with the land registry. This is often the case where a property has been inherited and the previous owner has passed away. If you have lost title deeds to a house, what you will need to do is:
- Provide evidence to the Land Registry why title deeds have been lost (Statement of Truth). The evidence should include who held the deeds and whereabouts they kept them, why they had them, any information about the loss or destruction of the deeds and what has been done to find them.
- Try to reconstruct the title deeds, including any history of owners and how you have come to own the property now. You can do this by tracking down any draft paperwork with conveyancers and solicitors, and putting them together to construct a draft history of the property ownership.
- You will, as expected, need to prove your identity with appropriate identification and evidence of association with the property.
Complications with missing title deeds
When a property is missing title deeds and they cannot be tracked down with previous solicitors and conveyancers, the likelihood is that the Land Registry will give an owner a “possessory title” or a “qualified title”.
This is instead of a “title absolute” which is essentially where the Land Registry guarantee the ownership.
Then, the owner needs to follow a time scale and reapply for a title absolute when the allocated amount of time has passed.
What happens if you want to sell or re-mortgage a property under a possessory or qualified title?
In this case, the mortgage broker or buyer would need to ensure they are covered by indemnity insurance for any future discrepancies over the ownership of the property.
Removal of name from title deeds
Another complication associated with title deeds is essentially when a name needs to be removed from the deeds.
There are a few reasons why you may need to remove a name from the title deeds, like divorce, death and separation.
Although, the steps may change slightly if you have a mortgage on your house, here’s how to remove somebody’s name from your title deeds:
- Fill in the application form to change the register .
- Sign the transfer deed.
- Take an ID1 form to the solicitors, with two appropriate items that prove your identity (like a passport or driving licence, and a bank statement). An ID1 form is basically the identity certificate for an individual.
- Send the completed forms to the Land Registry.
- If there is a mortgage involved with the property, you’ll need consent from the mortgage broker. Your solicitor can advise you with what to do.
Can I sell a house if it’s not registered with an absolute title?
Although not impossible, selling property or land without full title deeds can be tricky and add extra complications to the sale. If a property only has a possessory, qualified or absolute title, the value of the property can be affected and the additional hassle associated with getting the property properly registered can out a lot of potential buyers off.
If you are trying to sell a property with an inadequate title with no luck, you might want to consider your options, especially if you are looking to secure a quick house sale.
Home buying companies like Quick Move Now, can buy all sorts of property, including houses with possessory titles. So, if you are struggling to sell your home due to title issues, you might want to speak to our friendly property purchasing team on 0800 068 3366 to see if we can help. Alternatively, you can complete our online form to see how much we can offer. Quick Move Now’s home buying service is completely free and there are no obligations at any point of the process.