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Register land with Land Registry before going to market

View profile for Emily Darke
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Have you checked recently that your registered titles reflect who is entitled to your land – and is their interest protected by a restriction?

Like many other landowners, you may have been encouraged to register land voluntarily with Land Registry before going to market, as an event such as a sale of the land will trigger its registration. Your agents may also have informed you that having registered land can appeal to a wider market and potentially lead to a smoother sale. Organising historic title deeds into one registered title number sounds simple enough but with land law, that is rarely the end of the matter!

It is very important that once your land has been registered with Land Registry, you routinely check your title registers, perhaps at annual accounting, to ensure that these are correct. This is especially important if you own several parcels of land, or if you are considering succession planning. It is important that the title register reflects who is beneficially entitled to the land.

Those named as proprietors on the title are the legal owners of the property. They have the right, subject to restrictions, to sell, mortgage or transfer the property. However, that does not automatically give them the beneficial right to the land, or the profits derived from it. It is very common for the legal and beneficial owners to be the same people – those recorded on the title, are those who are entitled to the proceeds from the property. However, if land is held by a legal owner for the benefit of someone else, it is crucial that information is properly recorded on the registered title.

You may intend that your land should be held as a partnership asset or that it should be held on trust for your grandchildren. In these scenarios, you would be creating a trust of land, and you would need to ensure that the beneficial interests are properly recorded with Land Registry and usually HMRC. The legal owner on the title then effectively becomes a trustee of the land, and the trust would need to be protected by way of a restriction on the title. 

Not all restrictions on the title relate to a trust but a restriction means that the legal owner must comply with certain obligations before they can deal with the land. This is to protect the beneficial interests and to limit the trustee’s powers. However, without a restriction, land could be sold, mortgaged, or transferred by the legal owner perhaps long before those entitled to the proceeds even realise.

If you are concerned that your registered land does not contain a restriction on the title as it should do, or if you wish to make arrangements to place your land in trust for the benefit of someone else, we encourage you to obtain legal advice. If you have any queries about this article, please contact the Commercial or Private Client teams at Crombie Wilkinson Solicitors.