11 September 2019

How can I sell a property if it is unregistered?

Although only a small percentage of land throughout England and Wales remains unregistered, it still begs the question; is it possible to sell an unregistered property?

The Land Registration Act 1925 declared that all legal estates in Land, throughout England and Wales, must now be registered at H M Land Registry (this act has since been updated in 2002). In order to practically deal with the registration of all legal estates, Parliament decided to define certain triggers which would bring about first registration. As a result, the registrations would happen as a natural course of events as opposed to all at once!

These triggers include (but are not limited to):

– Sale or Transfer
– Voluntary registration
– Grant of a new Lease
– First legal mortgage

If you are looking to sell your property which is currently unregistered, you will need to produce your original deeds which prove your ownership. These can sometimes be held by lenders if the property has ever been subject to a mortgage. They can also be held at firms of solicitors who have acted in any previous conveyancing transactions. The deeds need to be analysed in order to produce a good ‘Root of Title’, which goes back at least 15 years in order to obtain the class of title as ‘Title Absolute’. As well as the deeds, the plans included in the deed to discern the extent of the land which is owned must also been analysed. This essentially means a timeline of ownership is created which should end with you.

Once this is established, there are one of two ways to sell the property. First, the original Deeds proving a good Root of Title are organised into an Epitome of Title and this is sent to the buyer’s solicitors. They may then agree to register the same at H M Land Registry on completion. Alternatively, the buyer’s solicitors may request that the seller’s solicitor register the property in the first instance before proceeding.

If you are unable to produce the relevant deeds, we may still be able to register the property under a lower class of title. You will need to produce whatever evidence you can and seek appropriate legal advice as to the options open to you.

In any case, selling unregistered land is certainly possible and a very interesting and historical fact finding task and our Property Lawyers can help you navigate the process and set you on the right legal path.

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