The HM Land Registry is critical in accessing the United Kingdom's Title Deeds and property data.

It is the official government agency responsible for maintaining land and property ownership records in England and Wales.

The Land Registry holds documents that provide legal proof of ownership and contain vital information about the property, such as boundaries, rights of way and any restrictions or charges affecting the property.

They collect and maintain a wealth of property-related data, which is valuable in property valuations, market analysis, research, legal protection, conveyancing and homeowner decision-making.

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What is the HM Land Registry?

The HM Land Registry is a non-ministerial division of the Government that keeps track of who owns property across England and Wales. The HM Land Registry offers government-guaranteed land titles and title plans that show the borders of the land to property holders.

What is a Title Deed?

Title deeds sound important, but what are they?

Title deeds may include leases, mortgages, conveyances, wills and contracts for sale. Their primary purpose is to show the chain of ownership for both land and property.

The land registry title deeds are paper documents that provide the ownership history of a property, but they are often kept digitally by the Land Registry.

Title deeds can also help show when a property was built.

What is property data?

Property data is the information and details related to a property, whether residential, commercial or industrial or a piece of land.

The property data will include various aspects such as its location, ownership details, transaction history and some legal information.

The HM Land Registry compiles all property data from residential property sales, title deeds and transactions in England and Wales that are lodged with them to create a database of property data.

This register can be checked with an HM Land Registry Check, which isn't free but costs very little.

Every month, the Office for National Statistics releases their UK House Price Index which gives a summary of the shift in sold house prices across the United Kingdom. This is a report taken from property data sourced from the HM Land Registry.

Who holds the deeds to my house?

When purchasing a property, who holds and is responsible for the deeds of the property? It's a common question, and the answer depends.

If you have bought a property using a mortgage provided by a mortgage provider, typically, they will hold the title deeds to a property.

If you've bought the property yourself or paid your mortgage in full, then the property owner should hold the deeds.

The original Land Registry Title Deeds copies may be with the conveyancer or solicitor representing the property owner.

However, this is only sometimes the case, and over time, the deeds can be lost or difficult to track down, significantly if your property has changed hands a lot. You don't need to worry because if your property is registered with the land registry, you don't need the deeds to prove ownership.

It's essential to try and keep track of the original copies, however, as they don't just include the title deeds but also the property's legal boundaries and the previous holder.

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What is the purpose of a Land Registry deed?

Before 1925 properties primarily were unregistered with the land registry, as it was a voluntary process until the Land Registration Act was introduced that year.

Fast forward 95 years, and you'll find that 85% of all properties in the country are registered, and they hold more than 24 million title deeds, but why?

Why did they introduce the Land Registration Act and the purpose of a land registry deed? There are several, and the titles set out:

  • Whether there are restrictions affecting the property.

  • What the boundaries are.

  • What rights of way it has.

  • And most importantly, who owns the land.

But overall, the main reason is that they protect and guarantee land and property rights.

Do all houses have deeds?

Yes, all properties and lands will have title deeds, as they are the legal documents required to show you officially own the land, as certified with the HM Land Registry.

It is essential to the conveyancing process when buying or selling property or land in the UK.

How can I get hold of my title deeds?

No law says you must pass on the original property's title deeds when you sell a house.

So, if you've bought a house which has seen a few owners, anyone could have the original papers. Unfortunately, this could make it nearly impossible to find them.

If you get the property registered, your solicitor or mortgage provider may hold the title deeds. This is because HM Land Registry scans copies and sends the original to whoever lodged them.

However, if you still can't find your title deeds, don't despair. HM Land Registry have many scanned copies of the documents; find out if they have yours here. There is a cost to searching for your scanned copies.

Does it matter if I don't have my Land Registry documents?

It's a good idea to have your title deeds, especially the originals, as they can contain information that may not be available elsewhere, such as legal boundaries or previous owners.

However, the Land Register has a record of land and property in England and Wales, so if your house is registered with them, you don't need the original deeds to confirm that you own the home.

Can I do the Land Registry search myself when buying a house?

The land registry search is just one aspect of a list of tasks conveyancers carry out when helping you buy your home. If these are carried out correctly or correctly, significant issues can occur after the sale has been completed.

An example of an issue which could occur without a valid search is that the current owner could have a current interest in the property.

You can get by without a conveyancer if you're purchasing the house with cash. However, if you're buying with a mortgage, it's doubtful that the lender will allow the sale without a solicitor.

What are property burdens?

There is a list of obligations included in title deeds. These burdens usually have, amongst other items:

  • Restrictions on altering the property.

  • Rights of way/access for the property.

  • Maintenance and repairs to the property.

  • Restrictions on using the property to run a business.

  • If the owner holds the right to roads crossing the property.

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How to use Land Registry Title deeds and property data

The purpose of title documents is to keep track of the ownership of a property or piece of land and can provide helpful information if you apply for a mortgage or want to buy or sell a property.

How do I change my title deeds?

If you wish to sell your rights to the property or have a co-owner who wants to sell or transfer theirs, the title deeds will need to be updated.

This involves a fee and a solicitor to update the documents. Furthermore, if there's a mortgage on the property or co-owners, they must agree to the changes.

Can someone steal the title to my home?

This, surprisingly, is quite a common query; if the title deed is registered with the HM Land Registry, how could anyone steal the title to my home?

Unfortunately, it can and does happen. Title property fraud does occur, and people can obtain your title essentially by stealing your identity; they can then change the land ownership name on the property title to their own.

This is dangerous because it means they can then take out loans against the property or sell it from under your nose

It used to be a once sporadic form of theft, but in recent years it has increased, so it's something to be aware of. You can protect yourself from this fraud by signing up for the Land Registry Property Alert service.

What is a HM Land Registry Check?

A Land Registry Check allows you to search all registered properties in England and Wales for property information, including the title deeds for a property, title register and title plan.

Here are a few reasons why you might want to do a Land Registry Check:

  • If you are interested in a property, using the HM Land Registry Check can influence your decisions when buying a property or a piece of land.

  • If you are a cash buyer, you can use the HM Land Registry Check to submit an offer to the landowner and a request before the land goes on to the open market.

  • If you want to confirm the asking price with a home seller, you can use the property's previous transaction history to influence any offers suggested.

  • If you want to live in an area, use the HM Land Registry Check to see if any commercial or residential developments are being planned in the local area.

If you work in the property industry, then you can use the Land Registry Property Portal to access instant Land Registry information.

How do you find out who owns a house?

Go onto the Government's website and conduct a £3-£11 property owner search, allowing you to access most land or property sold In England and Wales since 1993.

The records which will be available during the check include the following:

  • Title Register - may consist of the property title number, who owns it, how much they paid for it, and whether a mortgage has been discharged.

  • Title plan - a map that shows the property's boundaries and location.

  • Flood risk indicator - data that shows the probability of the risk of flooding occurring.

  • The title summary - comprises the title number, who owned it, how much they paid for it, whether it was freehold or leasehold property, and the owner's mortgage provider.

Why do professionals use the HM Land Registry to buy or sell houses?

Professionals such as estate agents, conveyancers and mortgage providers will use the land registry when buying or selling a house for; title verification purposes, to access accurate property information, for due diligence, to check the chain of title, to check accurate property valuation history and for legal compliance.

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Tom Condon

Tom Condon, one of our content writers, has fascinating expertise in sustainability in the property industry. Tom thoroughly understands the market and has experience in both residential and commercial property. He enjoys attending conferences and staying current with the most recent property trends.