How to Find Out Who Owns a Property
Estimated reading time 7 minutes
When you want to find out who owns a property or a piece of land in the UK there is no need to fill in lots of paperwork or speak to someone on the telephone for hours on end. It is actually very simple and can be done through a variety of sources.
Your first port of call should be:
The Land Registry
The Land Registry is the main source of information about property ownership in the UK. It holds the official register of all property and land sold in England and Wales since 1993. What is great is that you are able to view the title plan, the title register for a property and a property summary on-line and if need you can download them.
You can search the Land Registry’s database online and can even only use a postcode to search. From this search you can find information including the current owner, past owners, and any mortgages or charges on the property very quickly for property and land sold after 1993.
A title plan is a map showing the property’s location and its general boundaries — there’s usually no record of exact boundaries.
The title register normally includes who owns the property, the title number, how much it was last sold for, if there is a mortgage on the property or if the mortgage has been paid off, details for restrictive covenants, details of “easements”
The property summary includes the title number, the lenders name and address (if there is a mortgage on the property, the type of ownership freehold or leasehold, which is known as tenure, if there are restrictive covenants attached to the property for example if the property is listed or you are not allowed to build on it also if there are certain rights of ways “easements”.
Gaffsy says …. It is important to note that some information may not be publicly available, and there may be a fee for accessing certain information through HM Land Registry. However, by using this service, you can obtain a comprehensive and up-to-date understanding of who owns a property in the UK. If you have done this and are ready to move ahead with your purchase and want to sell your house quickly for cash contact us today for a free cash offer.
Why might you want to know who owns property or land?
There are a number of reasons why you might want to know who owns property or land here are some of them
When you have had an offer accepted on a house for sale or on a piece of land and instructed a solicitor, they will start the conveyancing process off and will conduct a search on the property or land. This will include information about ownership, legal description, covenants and easements. See our note on Do I need a solicitor to sell my house? for a more detailed breakdown of the type of searches that are carried out and why.
Do you want to build on the land? Or maybe extend?
If you have found a piece of land or a house for sale that you want to buy and think you may want to apply for planning permission for extensions, buildings in the gardens or to actually build a house on a piece of land. It can be vital to check if there are restrictions on the house as to whether you can extend it as well as knowing on any land you maybe considering buying as to the likelihood of gaining permission to build on it. As there maybe covenants that restrict this. Also there could be future plans in the area that you would want to know about before purchasing it that could impact your property.
Curiosity … didn’t kill the cat
It may be that you are just curious to know about a street that has properties you consider interesting and want to know about or a piece of land that has been empty for years. It could be that you were purchasing one house in the street and it fell through and you are now wondering if anyone else in the street wants to sell their property. By checking out the title deeds you can find the owner, you know the addresses so popping a letter through the door addressed directly to the owner may spark that house owners’ interest in selling. Similarly, it could be the land owner has never previously considered selling of a piece of land and your approach may enable your dream home to be built.
Wondering why the house for sale is cheaper than expected?
We all like to know how a person with a house to sell or a landowner with land to sell arrives at their asking price especially if it looks out of line with other properties or land for sale in the area. If the price you are seeing for that house or land that you want to buy doesn’t make any sense by looking at what amount the property has changed hands for in the past may help you discover something you hadn’t been aware of. If the property has hidden defects or there are large future works that will depreciate the value of the property you could be able to find this out.
Problems when property and land is not registered
Whilst 85% of property and land in England and Wales is registered if the land for sale or house for sale that you are interested falls in the 15% that is unregistered you may have problems finding out who owns the land and property. If the land registry search didn’t help provide you with the information here are some follow on steps you can take to help you find out who owns the property and land
- Instruct a tracing agent they are experts in locating missing freeholders, property owners and landlords as they access to specific data on online systems that the general public doesn’t have access to.
- Ask around, neighbours and people who have been in the area for a long time may be able to help. Also check the local authority recorders for planning applications as these will normally help point you in the direction of the owner.
- Check the electoral roll: The electoral roll lists the names and addresses of registered voters. If the owner of the property or land is registered to vote, their name and address may appear on the roll.
- Contact local authorities: The local council or other relevant authorities may have information about who owns the property or land. The planning permission application process typically requires the applicant to provide information about who owns the property or land, and this information is typically made publicly available. Planning permission applications can normally be found by searching online and/or by contacting the local planning authority.
Gaffsy says finding out who owns a property and land in the UK can be done through various sources such as the Land registry, local authority, online property search websites, property deeds and even by talking to neighbours.