Written by Charlotte Wright, Solicitor at Spire Solicitors LLP.
Since compulsory first registration was introduced many properties are now registered with the Land Registry as a result of a trigger event occurring, such as a change of ownership or a new mortgage. However it is estimated approximately 25% of land in England & Wales remains unregistered. This is particularly prevalent with farmland which has often remained in the same ownership for decades. The question is “Why should you bother voluntarily registering your land and not just wait until registration is automatically triggered?”
- Ownership Protection – As a farmer, your land is your livelihood. The Land Registry is the government department responsible for land ownership in England and Wales. Registered land is guaranteed by the state and will give you greater security of title which is particularly important for agricultural holdings.
- Evidence of Ownership – A registered title provides an up to date record of who owns the land, eliminating the need to examine the past history of the title. This helps put your estate in good order for the benefit of future generations.
- Reduced Future Costs – A registered title produces an easy to read document reflecting ownership. Professionals will spend less time examining historic unregistered documents which could result in a reduction in future costs as the procedure is simplified.
- Efficiency – A Land Registry Title Plan will accompany your registration and show the extent of your land ownership. This assists you in managing your land as efficiently as possible. This can be extremely useful if you are considering borrowing against the land as a potential lender will be able to quickly and easily see the extent of your ownership which reduces valuation costs. As title information is kept on the Land Registry’s database there is no need to store old deeds and documents which can often get lost over time.
- Adverse Possession – Claims are less common and you have improved protection against the possibility of losing title to adverse possession (‘squatters right”).
- Reduction in Fees – The Land Registry offers a 25% fee reduction when land is registered on a voluntary basis.
- Family Knowledge – Farmland has often been within the same family for generations. This historic knowledge is invaluable when it comes to registering land as over the years boundaries may have become irregular or rights of access, service or maintenance not formally recorded. It is much easier to resolve these issues whilst the person with the benefit of the knowledge it still able to assist.
For all these reasons we would advise owners of unregistered land to think about making an application for voluntary first registration. If you are considering registering your farmland or property please contact Charlotte Wright, a solicitor in our Agricultural Team, on 01362 692 424.