Unregistered land is land which is not registered with the Land Registry. In order to prove ownership, the owner of the land must produce historical title deeds which are complex and can sometimes be ambiguous. The Land Registry estimates that approximately 15% of land in the UK is currently unregistered. Part of this statistic is made up of agricultural land which is often owned through generations for a considerable period of time and farmed by the same family for many years.
Registering your land at the Land Registry is an easy way to ensure that your ownership is certain and secure. You only need to register your land once and you will be provided with peace of mind that the land which you rightfully own is set out clearly in an official register.
The main benefits of land registration are set out below:
- Upon registering your land, you will be provided with a modern scale plan by the Land Registry. This ensures that it is easy to recognise your land and its boundaries. Plans appended to old title deeds often reference historic features which no longer exist and having several different plans attached to several title deeds can make it difficult for land to be identified. Having a clear and coherent plan could reduce the chance of any future boundary disputes from arising.
- Land registration becomes compulsory when unregistered land is sold or transferred. Since 1990, unregistered land must be registered within 2 months of completion of the sale or transfer. If the land is already registered, the conveyancing process is quicker and simpler. This could lead to a reduction in legal fees when selling. The Land Registry also offers a 25% discount on their first registration fees if the registration application is made voluntarily, rather than when the registration of the land becomes compulsory.
- The Land Registry guarantees title to land and notifies the owner of the land if a third party attempts to register an interest in relation to that land. This protects against a neighbour registering land in their name and provides you with absolute and undisputed evidence of ownership.
- Registration protects against circumstances where title deeds could be lost or damaged. If title deeds are missing, the owner of the land is required to gather evidence of their ownership. This can be a difficult and time-consuming process. When land is registered, the Land Registry hold all of the required copy title documents online, and these can be easily downloaded over the Internet if needed.
- When registering land, we can resolve any issues regarding rights of way or encroachment by neighbours. We are able to formally document agreements such as rights granted to third parties over your land, rights of way, sporting rights and field swaps/land exchanges. These informal and undocumented agreements were often entered into whilst the older generation of farming families managed the land. Therefore, it is important that these agreements are properly and legally documented before the knowledge of them is lost.
Crombie Wilkinson Solicitors can assist you with the process of applying for first registration of your land at the Land Registry. We can register your land if some of your title deeds are missing or have been damaged. If you have any queries regarding land registration and how we can help you, please contact our dedicated Agricultural Team at our Malton office on 01653 600070, who will be happy to discuss this further with you.
This article was written by Elizabeth Simpson, Solicitor at Crombie Wilkinson Solicitors.