Can you still sell a house without title deeds?
Are you looking at selling your home? You might be curious as to what certificates you may need to sell the property.
In this scenario we go through title deeds and whether you need them to sell your home or whether you can get away without them.
What are Title Deeds?
Title deeds are the official paper documents that show the chain of ownership of a property or land.
They lay out whether the property is a freehold or leasehold, the boundaries and legal ownership.
Title Deeds can also include any charges against your property from your mortgage lender, leases, contracts for sale, wills and conveyances.
Digital copies of the originals are registered with HM Land Registry before being returned to the person who lodged them. This is usually the solicitor or conveyancer acting on behalf of a buyer.
What are Title Deeds used for?
Title deeds are an incredibly important as they prove ownership of the property and are the final word in a legal dispute.
You can use title deeds to prove can be used to prove who owns the land, who has rights of access and who has a charge or financial interest in the property.
It is worth noting that unless the property boundaries are clearly marked, title deeds can be very rarely used to identify them.
Are there different types of Title Deeds?
There are two main types of title deeds. These are possessory title (also called a qualified title) and title absolute.
A possessory is often given in the place of the original deeds when they have been lost and absolute title cannot be proven.
What is the HM Land Registry?
The HM Land Registry safeguards land and property ownership. They cover property in England and Wales but not in Scotland.
The HM Land Registry very rarely hold the original deed and instead scan registered properties and return them to the solicitor or person who applied for the registration.
How do I register my property with HM Land Registry?
Chances are your property is already registered with the Land Register.
However, if your property is not unregistered, then it is your duty to do so when you first take ownership. You can do this online by completing a FR1 form supplying all the relevant details, including title deeds.
According to property type, you can expect the fees for first registry to be about £60 for a £100,000 property and £140 for a £200,000 property.
As a homeowner it is in your best interest to ensure that your property is registered with the Land Registry.
It will not only keep your title deed information safe, but it will also make it easy to access and amend them as your circumstances change.
It will also help to speed up the house selling process when the time comes to move.
How can you find Title Deeds?
As long as your property is registered with the HM Land Registry, then there is no reason to need your original title deeds.
As previously mentioned, the Land Registry will hold a scanned copy of the deeds. Whilst the paper deeds are good to own, they are not needed in the modern era.
Registered title deeds are quick and easy to find, all you need to do is search for your property online and request copies of the title deeds.
These will come in two parts, the Title Register and Title Plan.
A title register is a document that will usually record ownership , price, dates of purchase, any covenants and the title number.
A title plan on the other hand will highlight the extent of the property, the boundaries, the ordinance survey reference and the rights of way.
What is a Title Number?
A title number is allocated by the Land Registry and identifies the property and distinguishes it from other properties that have a similar address.
If you are in possession of the property's title number then that is all you will need to identify it and to obtain copies of the Title Register or any other registered document that you require.
How much does it cost to get a copy of the Title Deeds?
The good news is that you are able to order a copy of your title plan or title register online for £3 each, but these are for informational purposes only.
If you require the deeds for legal purposes then you will need to order HM Land Registry Official Copies for £7 each by sending off a form OC1.
Am I able to remove my mortgage lender from My Title Deeds?
Once you have repaid your mortgage in full, your mortgage lender will inform the Land Registry.
If you have not yet finished paying your mortgage then you can apply to have them removed by completing form AP1.
Do You Need The Deeds To Sell A House?
In order to sell your property, you must either have the original deeds or know that they have been digitally registered with HM Land Registry in your name.
Things become more complicated if you’re selling an unregistered property, especially if you are selling it on behalf of someone else i.e. a relative.
What if you don't have your Title Deeds?
If you own a property & never received your title deeds then you should contact whoever acted on your behalf and get them returned to you.
In some cases, the people who sold the property to you may still have the deeds.
There’s no legal requirement for a seller to hand over deeds, however most solicitors or conveyancers, acting on a buyer’s behalf, will get these for you as part of their service.
If you contact HM Land Registry then they can let you know whether your property is registered with them or not. If it is then you don’t need paper copies of the deeds.
If it isn’t registered then you will need to submit the original deeds in order to get your property registered on their systems. This is why, if you have the originals, they are particularly important.
You should however always make sure that you have a copy of the property deeds, as a property owner, because they include things that won’t be kept digitally by HM Land Registry, such as previous owners or legal boundaries.
Lost Deeds & no Land Registry record
You've lost the deeds, contacted HM Land Registry & you've found out the property isn't registered in your name, what can you do?
Essentially you will need to locate the missing deeds, and there are a few steps you should consider to do this:
If you have a house repayments on the property you can get your conveyancers to write to the lender in order to receive the deed pack, you will however need to supply them with your details and house repayments account number.
If you've previously had a house repayments that has been repaid you still might be able to retrieve the details from the house repayments company as some lenders retain deeds.
It's quite a common occurrence that the title deeds are placed with the owners Will, contact anyone who might have access to the Will documents such as a local law firm or accountant.
Search the property high and low. The title deed should have come as a bundle of documents when the house was first purchased, see if you can track any of these down in the property itself.
There are other options but they are long and drawn out, you should only resort to them if you've exhausted all other avenues.
Your other option would be Reconstitution of Title with the Land Registry which involves applying for new deeds basically.
How we can help
Here at The Property Buying Company, we have over 50 years' combined experience within the property market.
Our advisors are on-hand to answer any queries you may have about selling your property and what documentation you need to provide.