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The importance of retaining title Deeds

What are title Deeds?

Title Deeds are documents that show the chain of ownership and dealings for land and property. They include Conveyances, Legal Charges, Grants of Probates and Leases. They can also include important Guarantees.

Why are title Deeds important?

The Land Registry holds a central record of registered properties within the UK. Since the 1990s it has been compulsory to register all properties with the Land Registry. If you purchased your property after 1990 then it should be registered, but if you purchased before that date then it probably isn’t. You should therefore consider making a voluntary application. This will minimise the hassle caused if the title Deeds for your property are lost. There is also a reduced fee for voluntary registration. 

Why keep title Deeds?

If your property is unregistered then it is important to keep your Deeds safe. Applying to register your ownership with no documentation is an expensive and unreliable process, which usually results in obtaining possessory title only.

If you want to upgrade to absolute title, the best class of title you can get, you will need to wait 12 years before making the application. This would be incredibly frustrating if you have already owned the house for nearly 30 years. A possessory title is also far less attractive to a prospective buyer, which can cause problems when you come to sell.

When a property is registered, the Land Registry create a Register of Title, which will show who owns the property. It is important to keep title Deeds because it is often impossible to reflect all the information they contain within the Register of Title, which is only two to three pages long. For example, disputes frequently occur over legal boundaries; information that is sometimes in the title Deeds, but rarely recorded in the register. Being able to produce evidence from the Deeds can prevent expensive disputes.

If disputes do arise, and the matter goes to court, then the first step the judge will take is to review the old Deeds to ascertain the intentions of the original parties. The Land Registry is usually reliable, but mistakes can happen, and if you’re not able to provide information to the contrary then it can be very difficult to rectify the title.

If the reasons above are not enough to convince you, then the Deeds are also worth keeping for personal and historical interest – old Deeds are fascinating documents.

Where can you find the Deeds?

Mortgage lenders used to retain title Deeds for their own security. However, with advances in technology in the conveyancing process, this is now becoming increasingly infrequent. Some lenders have started distributing Deeds out to customers as part of a drive to return all Deeds. Others will only provide them if they are requested, or the mortgage has been paid off. Therefore, if you do not hold your Deeds, then check with your lender. It is also worth checking with your solicitors, as some offer a deed storing service. Wherever your Deeds are, you should ensure they are kept in a safe place where they will not get damaged or stolen.


Added: 08 Feb 2018 10:01

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