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Agricultural Land - The benefits of being registered

View profile for Amy Clarkson
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A significant percentage of land in England and Wales is still unregistered and a large part of that is agricultural and rural land.

Why?  Well, agricultural land often remains within the same ownership for decades and land which was purchased before the late 1980s was not necessarily subject to compulsory registration.

Certain triggers can force compulsory registration, such as if you want to use the land for security with the bank when re-financing or if you want to transfer land; either by way of a sale or perhaps by giving some land/property to a member of the family, for example.

The benefits of being proactive and taking pre-emptive steps to voluntarily register your land can be significant – not least because you will benefit from reduced Land Registry fees by voluntarily registering your land rather than incurring the higher fees which the Land Registry will impose once compulsory registration has been triggered.

Some other benefits are potentially even more attractive.  For example, if someone tries to make a claim for adverse possession the Land Registry will notify the registered owner of the claim straight away; thus enabling you to take steps to prevent the loss of land.

Although perhaps less dramatic, additional benefits to your land being registered include the fact that it saves a considerable amount of time should you ever decide to sell.  It is also far easier for your descendants to deal with your estate when the land is already registered; rather than trying to piece together a complex unregistered title and trying to locate old bundles of deeds.  Take into account the fact that they may not know where to begin their search for those old deeds.

Voluntary registration also allows time to resolve any issues or anomalies which may be revealed by a detailed review of the title deeds.  For example, old plans are sometimes low on detail and ownership of a track or section of river can easily be missed if the red line appears to be on the wrong side of a boundary.  We find that this is often the case if details on the old plans are small – a thick red line carelessly drawn several decades ago can cause problems and lengthy delays when you want to sell or when you need to use the land as security for the bank.  Catching points such as those described above during a voluntary registration will help you to avoid unnecessary hold-ups later down the line.

If you believe that you may own some unregistered land then the easiest way to check is to locate your deeds and use the plans to run a search with the Land Registry; which you may choose to do yourself but it is often preferable to get in touch with a solicitor and allow them to carry out this work for you; solicitors have years of experience with this sort of task and know what to look for.

If you find that you are correct and your land, or parts of it, are unregistered then consider taking the time now to voluntarily register that land with the Land Registry.  Time invested at an early stage may prove to be invaluable to you and/or your family and business in the future.

If you have any queries Amy Clarkson Senior Associate Solicitor in our dedicated Agricultural Team would be happy to discuss them with you 01653 600070