What is a Title Deed?
Estimated reading time 5 minutes
Title deeds are paper documents showing the chain of ownership for land and property. They can include:
- Contracts for sale
Title deeds are made up of two separate parts, the Title Register and Title Plan.The Title Register shows who owns the property and any important information regarding covenants, debts and charges. The Title Plan shows a map of the property including boundary lines and rights of way.
Together, these documents help to protect your property rights and make sure everyone knows who owns the property and what rights and obligations come with it.
Who holds my title deeds?
HM Land Registry holds your title deeds, they create scanned copies and return the original title deeds to whoever lodged them, which is normally the solicitor or conveyancer that acted for you when you purchased the property.
The Land Registry holds records of all registered properties in England and Wales and can provide you with details of who is listed as the registered owner of the property and any registered charges or restrictions on the property. There are separate registers for Scotland and Northern Ireland
Information held with the Land Registry is available to view by anyone on the Land Registry website. This includes fraudsters, who can easily find out who owns a property, their correspondence address, lender details and even samples of their signature. To safeguard your property against fraudsters, register an Anti-Fraud Restriction on your property title and if your property is registered with Land Registry you can also sign up for free to their property monitoring service.
Gaffsy says … If you want to see a scanned copy of the deeds that the Land Registry hold on file, you can do so by searching their website. However, copies of deeds cannot be used to prove ownership and therefore you may prefer to get official copies of deeds instead.
Why do I need title deeds?
Title deeds are crucial when it comes to selling a property because they provide proof of ownership and help to ensure that the transfer of ownership is legitimate and legally binding. Without title deeds, it can be difficult to prove ownership of the property and the sale may be delayed or even cancelled.
The Title Deeds will also show any legal obligations or restrictions that are associated with the property, these are known as property burdens. Some examples of property burdens include:
- Easements: These are rights that another person or entity has over the property, such as a right of way, rights of light, rights to access a utility line.
- Covenants: These are promises made by the property owner to do or not do something with the property, such as maintaining a fence or not altering the property in certain ways.
- Restrictive covenants: These are restrictions on the use of the property that are imposed by a previous owner or a third party, such as a local authority or a community association. These restrictions may limit the use of the property or place certain conditions on it. For example, not to develop the land, only allow the property to be used as a single-family private dwelling, not to use the property for commercial purposes.
- Mortgages: If the property is subject to a mortgage, this will be recorded in the title deeds and will give the mortgage lender certain rights over the property.
- Lease details: The length of the lease any restriction on use, any obligation or responsibilities of the lease holder.
Who checks title deeds?
The responsibility for checking the title deeds typically falls on the buyer’s solicitor or conveyancer. As part of the conveyancing process, the buyer’s solicitor will conduct searches on the property to verify the legal ownership and uncover any issues that may affect the property’s value or use.
The searches may include a review of the Title Register, Title Plan, and other records maintained by the Land Registry. The buyer’s solicitor may also conduct searches with local authorities, environmental agencies, and other relevant bodies to check for any potential issues, that may affect the property.
Overall, it is the responsibility of the buyer’s solicitor to review and verify the title deeds and any other relevant records to ensure that the property is legally sound and free from any encumbrances or other issues that could affect the buyer’s use and enjoyment of the property.
Gaffsy says … for further details on this subject check out our guide Do I need a solicitor to Sell My House?
Can I sell my property without the title deeds?
Yes, it is possible to sell a property without title deeds, but the process can be more complicated and may affect the property value. If the title deeds are lost or unavailable, you may need to apply for possessory title deeds, which requires providing proof of legal ownership of the property. Alternatively, you can provide a statutory declaration to the buyer and their mortgage lender.
However, selling a property without title deeds can be more challenging and time-consuming, as the buyer’s solicitor will need to conduct detailed searches to ensure the legal ownership of the property. This extra work and risk involved can lead to lower property values and may deter potential buyers.
So, while it is possible to sell a property without title deeds, it is not advisable, and you should take steps to obtain title deeds prior to selling to simplify the selling process and ensure yourself a fair market value for your property.