How to Find Out Who Owns Land

Estimated reading time 7 minutes

When you want to find out who owns 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.

Step1: 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 piece of land and a land 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 land very quickly for land sold after 1993.

So what information do the Title Plan, Title Register, Property Summary contain and how much does the government charge to download this document.

1.     Title Plan – to download cost £3

A title plan is a map showing the land’s location and its general boundaries — there’s usually no record of exact boundaries.

2.     Title Register – to download costs £3

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”

3.     Land Summary – free

The land summary includes the title number, the lenders name and address (if there is a mortgage on the land, the type of ownership freehold or leasehold, which is known as tenure, if there are restrictive covenants attached to the land for example if you are not allowed to build on it also if there are certain rights of ways “easements”.

Gaffsy says .. If you have no luck with the Land Registry it means that the ownership of the land is not recorded with the government. This can happen if the property is very old, has never been sold, or if the owner has never chosen to register it with the Land Registry.

Problems when land is not registered

Around 5.2 million acres of land in England & Wales does not have a registered owner and therefore you may have problems finding out who owns the land.  What we do know is that the land has either not been sold or not changed hands for many years and is probably owned by old families or institutions, the Crown, the aristocracy and the Church.

Gaffsy says .. you should know that in England and Wales, all land is owned by somebody, even if the legal owner can’t be identified. For example, if a person dies without a Will or blood relatives, their land or property can pass to the crown by law.

Step 2: To find out who owns land

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 land

  1. 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.
  2. Ask around, neighbours, adjoining landowners and people who have been in the area for a long time as they may be able to point you in the right direction. It can also be worth asking in the local pub and post office as they may be able to help you.
  3. Check the electoral roll: The electoral roll lists the names and addresses of registered voters. If the owner of the land is registered to vote, their name and address may appear on the roll.
  4. 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 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.

Step 3: Identifying the Type of Land

It is important to know the classification of land that you are purchasing as it will have a bearing on the use and development of the land, as well as its value and likely-hood of obtaining a mortgage.

Residential Land:  Residential land is classified as land that is intended for use as a place of dwelling. This can include land for single-family homes, apartments, and other types of residential properties.

Commercial Land: Commercial land is classified as land that is intended for use for business or commercial purposes, such as offices, retail spaces, and industrial properties.

Agricultural Land:  Agricultural land is classified as land that is used for farming, forestry, or other agricultural purposes. This can include farmland, pasture, and woodland.

Development Land:  Development land is classified as land that is intended for future development, such as building new homes, businesses, or other structures. This can include land that is currently undeveloped or land that is in the process of being developed.

Green Belt Land: Green belt land is classified as land that is designated for preservation and protection, as it provides a green lung around urban areas. This type of land is protected from development and is intended to provide a separation between urban and rural areas. 

Gaffsy says … take a look at Can you get a Mortgage on Land for further insights on land purchases.

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