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Lost Title Deeds


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8 March 2011

When selling a property, the owner will need to prove ownership and the right to sell. Most homes in the UK are registered properties and this means that evidence of ownership has been provided at some stage during the life of a property and the Land Registry has registered the title on its database.

Having the title deeds is more important where a property is not registered with the Land Registry. Upon a sale, mortgage or other disposition, the owner will need the title deeds of the property to prove ownership to the other party to the transaction. Also, most dispositions of the property title will trigger a first registration and the Land Registry requires deeds proving the chain of ownership for at lease the last 15 years.

It is therefore imperative that the title deeds are located and stored in a safe place. If they are lost or have been misplaced, then the following should be considered:

Search for them

- Contact local solicitors, or parties to recent transactions involving the property to see if they may hold copies of documentation. Solicitors often store title deeds to the property for their client.

- Place an advertisement in the Law Society's Gazette giving details of the name of the purchaser, address of the property and requesting information. A solicitor who has dealt with the property may see the notice and contact you with information.

- Conduct a thorough search within the property - the deeds may have been hidden safely within the property, such as under floor boards, in the loft space, in the cellar, etc.

First Registration

If the title deeds still cannot be found, then an application for First Registration (Form FR1) will need to be submitted to the Land Registry, with the relevant Land Registry fee.

To complete a First Registration, the applicant needs to submit deeds which show ownership of the property for at least the last 15 years. If this cannot be proved, then any documents held by the applicant will need to be submitted, along with the following:

- a letter providing as much information as possible about the property, such as how the applicant became the owner of the property, and a report of the search attempts that have been made, providing evidence of unsuccessful searches such as letters from solicitors, etc.

- a Title Plan showing the boundaries of the property. The Land Registry uses plans based on Ordnance Survey (OS) and a good start will be to obtain a copy of an OS map of the property or the title plan to a neighbouring property that is registered with the Land Registry and mark or outline the borders of the property in question.

- submit a Statutory Declaration with a plan of the property included in the Declaration, from a neighbour to the property or another person (such as the solicitor who acted in the purchase) in which they confirm that the applicant owns the property and the boundaries of the property. The Statutory Declaration will also have to state how long the person has known the applicant and in what capacity. It is best to consult a solicitor for drafting the statutory declaration.

The Land Registry will contact the applicant (or the applicant's solicitor) if they require any further information. They will also need to send a surveyor to the property to confirm the boundaries, and this will be an extra cost payable by the applicant.

Once the Land Registry has processed the application and registered the property, they send the applicant a copy of the title and the plan. These should be checked by the applicant to ensure the information on the title is correct, so there are no problems in the future. Any issues should be raised with the Land Registry immediately.

Inam Ali is a Solicitor at Lawdit, specialising in Commercial Property and Intellectual Property Law and can be contacted via email:

About the Author

Lawdit Solicitors offer services and advice for litigation, commercial contracts, Intellectual Property and IT legal agreements. We are experts in commercial law with a heavy emphasis on Intellectual Property, Internet and e-commerce law. Lawdit is a member of the International Trademark Association, the Solicitors' Association of Higher Court Advocates and we are the appointed Solicitors to the largest webdesign association in the world, the United Kingdom Website Designers Association.

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2011-03-16 13:21:02 in Legal Articles

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