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13th September 2018

Title Deeds

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Before the introduction of Land Registration, ownership of land and buildings was recorded in lengthy and often hand written documents. Collections of these title deeds evidencing the owners of the land over a period of years, together with various searches and details of loans, could grow quickly into large bundles that had to be securely stored either by the owner or by their bank.

Land Registration introduced a more streamlined way of proving ownership of a property by recording this information in a central register. Compulsory registration was introduced at different times throughout the country and in Cambridgeshire this was brought in the late 1980’s. On registration the Land Registry still provided a formal Land Certificate, with a yellow cover, or Charge Certificate, with a blue cover, which needed to be securely stored as evidence of title to the property. The majority of these certificates were simply added to the bundle of pre-registration title deeds already in storage.

From 2003 the Land Registry no longer issued Land or Charge certificates and moved to a completely digital method of storing registered documents. The modern title register still follows the same format as the previous certificates. This contains information about the property itself, the current owners and details of any matters affecting the property including mortgages. Often one or more older documents will be specifically referred to in the register and the Land Registry will usually hold a digital copy of each of these documents too.

So, should you throw away your old title documents? Firstly if you have owned the property for 25 years or more you should check if your property is registered. If your property remains unregistered then the bundle of old title documents are absolutely vital to proving ownership and do need to be held securely. There are definite advantages to having the property voluntarily registered now, although there are fees associated with this and which are dependent on the property value.

If your property is registered then the large pile of old documents are generally not vital to a future sale and not worth paying a bank or firm of solicitors to hold these for you. Old searches and copies are of little relevance and will almost certainly never be required. But original Conveyances and Abstracts of title, particularly those with old plans, have proven useful in situations such as boundary disputes. This remains an area where the Land Registry do not provide a guarantee of accuracy on their registered plans. The Land Registry is also not infallible and has, on occasion, mislaid copies of old conveyances, leases or deeds. On these rare instances having the original can prove useful.

In addition, some of the older historic documents can also look great framed on your wall!

For more information about Title Deeds please contact Paul Ross on 01223 532735 or click here to email Paul.