The Land Registry holds details of all registered land in England and Wales. “Land” may include buildings on land as well as a plot of land.
The Land RegistryThe Land Registry, formally known as Her Majesty’s Land Registry, is a non-ministerial government department and has been in existence since 1862. The Land Registry is headed by the Chief Land Registrar and derives all of its powers from statute law.
The Land Registry holds records of the title to all freehold and leasehold properties or land in England and Wales. A solicitor carrying out conveyancing on a property sale will consult the information held by the Land Registry as part of the conveyancing process.
The Introduction of Land RegistrationLand registration was introduced in 1862. Previously, and for hundreds of years, there had been concerns about the methods of transferring land from one individual to another which existed in England and Wales. It was widely recognised that there was a need for a uniform and transparent system for transferring interests in land.
The introduction of one central registry containing details of all land was considered by many to be vital to a satisfactory process for buying, selling and transferring interests in land.
Land RegistrationLand registration was initially introduced on a voluntary basis. In 1897 registration was made compulsory for transactions involving land in London. However, it was not until December 1990 that it became compulsory to register land throughout England and Wales.
Registration is only compulsory when the freehold interest in land is sold or conveyed or when a lease for more than 21 years is granted or assigned. Consequently, despite land registration having been compulsory for 18 years, only about 65% of land in England and Wales is registered. A substantial majority of unregistered land will be outside London.
If a transfer of land is not registered in accordance with the prescribed time limits the transfer will not be fully effective. What is actually being registered is the title or ownership of the land and any interest in it. For example, the name of the registered owner will appear on the Land Registry but so will the name of any institution or individual which has an interest in it – such as a mortgage over the property.
Voluntary RegistrationRegistration of land is currently only compulsory when the land is conveyed or sold.
If a property or piece of land outside London has been owned by the same individual since before 1990 there will have been no requirement to register the land. However, an owner of an interest in land may register it voluntarily. The Land Registry currently provides a 25% discount on its fees for people who voluntarily register land for the first time.
Fees for Registering LandThe fees charged by the Land Registry to register land depend on a number of factors. These broadly include:
- The value of the land;
- Whether the registration is voluntary;
- The type of interest that is being registered;
- The nature of the transfer.
The Benefits of Land RegistrationThere are many benefits to registration of land. These include:
- Title is guaranteed – the individual buying or otherwise obtaining the land can be certain that the individual selling or transferring the land has good title to the land and the right to transfer it.
- One central source of information about land – the information held by the Land Registry about registered land can be accessed by anyone who wants to find out about a particular piece of land. Copies of entries on the Land Registry can be downloaded from the Land Registry website for a small fee.
- Land registration should make a conveyancing solicitor’s job easier.
- Fewer documents need to be consulted to get information about a piece of land.
- A clear and reliable statement of the boundaries of a piece of land.