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First Registration

Our solicitors / conveyancers in our Colchester office can help you with the first registration of your land/property.  At the moment, there are two systems of recording ownership of land in England and Wales; registered and unregistered. Whether your land is registered or unregistered can make a big difference and not just when you come to sell.  About 15% of the land in England and Wales that remains unregistered, much of which is farmland.  Registration of unregistered land becomes compulsory only under certain circumstances, which may be briefly described as either when it changes hands or is mortgaged. However, there are significant advantages in registering your property and land now, not least the fact that the Land Registry fees for voluntary registration are lower than the fees for compulsory registration.

Other considerable advantages of registration are that it:-

  • Provides state backed registration, giving greater security of title;
  • Simplifying and reducing the expense of the production of proof of title for the property;
  • Provides greater protection against the possibility of losing title by adverse Possession (‘squatters rights’);
  • Indemnifies you against any loss if you were deprived of your state-backed title on a rectification of the register under the provisions of the LR A 2002;
  • Introduces certainty and simplicity into conveyancing as it provides an opportunity for any anomalies that might need to be sorted out with the title that would have remained undiscovered without the title investigation;
  • Sets out, or referring in the register, to all the rights that benefit and affect the title other than certain overriding interests;
  • Shows the general extent of the land in each title by means of a title plan;
  • Enables the land to be readily available as security;
  • Makes large holders of land and portfolios of charges readily marketable.;
  • helps put your estate in good order for the benefit of future generations.

If title to your property has not been registered, our advice is that you consider making an application for first registration.  Currently the fee payable to the Land Registry for a voluntary First Registration is discounted by about 25% but this discount may not continue.  The Land Registry fee is based on the value of the property.

If you are not sure whether title to your property is registered or if you would like to register it voluntarily for the first time, please contact one of our conveyancing team. 

Unregistered land, an overview

A search of the Index Map will show whether land is registered or unregistered.  If land is unregistered, in the absence of personal knowledge, it can be hard to find out who owns it.  There is no central record of ownership to search.

Proof of ownership, or title, depends on being able to show a chain of ownership through deeds and other documents.  This is called the ‘root of title’.  A good root of title will be at least 15 years old and will usually include the conveyance to the current owner and to their predecessors.  However, if there have been no recent sales, you may have to go back a lot longer than 15 years.

If you own unregistered land, it is very important to keep all the original deeds safe. The conveyancer acting for any prospective buyer or lender will need to examine them carefully to check your title and any other matters that may affect the property.

The two systems work in parallel.

However, since 1990 it has been compulsory when buying unregistered land to apply to have the land registered within two months of a sale completing.

Other transactions which result in a change of ownership and trigger a requirement to register include gifts of land or assents by personal representatives. Because some land in England and Wales has not changed hands for many years, about 15 per cent of land remains unregistered, with the highest proportion concentrated in rural areas and districts which were among the last to introduce an obligation to register unregistered land prior to it becoming compulsory nationwide.  Land owned by some companies, local authorities and trusts may also remain unregistered.

Registering your unregistered land

If you own unregistered land, you should consider applying for voluntary registration, for the reasons which we have set out.  The process is relatively straightforward.  Although the Land Registry’s fees are based on the value of your property, they are modest, and there is no need for a professional valuation.  There is also a 25 per cent reduction for voluntary first registrations.  Registering your property now could save you time and expense in the long run and pre-empt issues in the future.

For a confidential discussion about registering your land, or for any property advice, contact one of our team of conveyancers.

We now consider the two systems in more detail.

Registered Land an overview

The Land Registry keeps a register of all registered land, which is indexed on a map, the Index Map. The Land Registry allocates each property its own unique number and individual register.  Each individual register includes three sections:

  • The ‘property register’, which contains a description of the property, linked to a map.   It may also show other information, such as whether the property has the benefit of     any rights, such as a right of way;
  • The ‘proprietor register’, which contains ownership information;
  • The ‘charges register’, which contains details of any mortgages or charges, including restrictive covenants, which affect the property

This information is commonly referred to as ‘title information’, which can be obtained from the for a small fee.  Anybody, including a prospective buyer or lender, can request an official copy of the register, which makes it very easy for them to check the ownership of any registered land they might be interested in.

Alice Brett

Solicitor and Managing Partner, Property Department, Colchester

Alice qualified as a Solicitor into the Civil Litigation Department in September 2012. She joined the Partnership in April 2015 and now specialises in residential property. Alongside the law, Alice is also a trustee for Grassroots, a charity which helps small groups in Colchester and Tendring.

Email: [email protected]

“I would like to thank the staff for all they did for me, especially on believing in my innocence. Thank you so much.”

Matters which could relate to a first registration:

Depending on your circumstances you may need advice for various reasons such as:

If you would like to find out more information on first registration

Please complete our contact us form at the top of this page, email [email protected] or feel free to call us on 01206 577676