FAQs: The Land Registry

What is Her Majesty’s Land Registry? 

The Land Registry, or Her Majesty’s Land Registry as it is now known (under the Land Registration Act 2002) is an agency of the government charged with overseeing the registration of ownership of land and property in England and Wales. The Land Registry was first formed in 1862 for this purpose, and currently reports to the Department for Business Innovation and Skills.
 

What is the purpose of the Land Registry?

The Land Registry centrally registers the ownership of property in England and Wales. The purpose of the Land Registry is to offer a guarantee of title to a property buyer, allowing them to transact with certainty. The Land Registry also record details of mortgage charges and covenants, allowing those planning to buy a property to acquire much of the information they need to make an informed choice on the value and extent of the property they wish to acquire.
 

What was the system before the Land Registry? 

Prior to the formation of the Land Registry, ownership of property (otherwise known as title) was proven by possession of the ‘title deeds’. These legal documents demonstrated title ownership and the passing of title ownership. Over time the ‘deeds’ would accumulate, allowing the present day owner to trace the title back to its root. The title deeds would be held by a solicitor and transferred to the buyer’s solicitor. Today only around 20% of property in the UK remains ‘unregistered’. 
 

Why register a property with Land Registry?

Registration allows ownership to be established by a simple, easy-to-access system. The Land Registry is self-funding, so applications for title information are not free, but they are not-for-profit, so the charges are reasonable. All title information is held in one place, and can be accessed electronically making the process quicker, and therefore cheaper. Finally, the Land Registry ensure the quality of the title they provide, giving a guarantee to buyers on the information they provide.
 

Do I need a lawyer to search the Land Registry?

It is now possible to search for title information with the Land Registry online, for a small fee. However the information you will receive is technical, and if you are seriously considering a purchase then you are best advised to have your lawyer request the documents on your behalf, as they can then advise you on the outcome of the search, and the most appropriate next steps.
 
If you would like to obtain legal advice on the land registry, Contact Law can put you in touch with a local solicitor free of charge. So, if you have any questions or would like our help in finding local solicitors please call us on 0800 1777 162 or complete the web-form above.