Unregistered Land – The Benefits of Voluntary Registration

It may come as a surprise to hear that only 87% of all land in England and Wales is currently registered at HM Land Registry, a non-ministerial government department created in 1862 to register the ownership of land and property in England and Wales.

When HM Land Registry was formed, registration was entirely voluntary until the Land Registration Act 1925 made registration compulsory. The requirement for compulsory registration was implemented on a phased basis with different areas of the country having different dates after which compulsory registration came into effect. For example, the majority of Surrey (including Dorking) had a compulsory registration date of 15th March 1952 whereas much of West Sussex (including towns such as Horsham) had a date of 1st April 1986.

The whole of England and Wales was subject to the compulsory registration rules by the end of 1990 and it is now compulsory to register all land and property which is bought, sold, gifted, or mortgaged.

There is still a significant amount of land and property which is unregistered, and it may be that your property is included within the 13% of unregistered land if ownership has not changed since 1990. Whilst it is not compulsory to register such land at this stage, you are still able to apply for voluntary registration and Land Registry actively encourages people to do so. There are a number of very good reasons to consider applying for voluntary registration including:

  • Security – registration provides a state-backed guarantee securing the title to your property.
  • Reduces risk of fraud – registration helps you protect your land from fraud and also safeguards against the title deeds being lost, stolen, damaged, or destroyed.
  • Speed – registering your property now is likely to reduce delays incurred in dealing with paper deeds upon any future sale and avoids your buyer being anxious about the lack of a registered title.
  • Cost – many firms charge higher fees for conveyancing work which involves unregistered land. By registering your property now, you are likely to save on future legal costs. Furthermore, Land Registry fees are reduced for voluntary applications as an incentive to register now.

If you are concerned that your property may be unregistered and would like us to check this with Land Registry, we would be happy to assist.

If you have any queries regarding registering your property at Land Registry, please contact Stephen Carr on 01306 884432 or email scarr@meaby.co.uk