Wednesday, February 19th, 2020
In order to prove ownership of a property in England you require the property deeds. These will allow you to approach a lender for a mortgage or to sell the property. So, what if these title deeds cannot be found?
- Search your house
- Ask the solicitor who helped you to purchase your property if they hold the original deeds or copies of these
- If you have a mortgage, then check with the lender if they hold the original deeds or copies
- Check if the deeds are registered with the Land Registry
Registered Property Deeds
Over 75% of properties in England and Wales have been registered which means that that there is a reasonable chance that your missing deeds are registered with the land registry. If this is the case, then you are in luck as this means that the land registry have examined your original house deeds and a digital copy of the property’s register can be obtained from the land registry for a small fee. A simple search of the Land registry will show whether your property has been registered.
Unregistered Title Deeds
If your property deeds cannot be found on the land registry then it is unregistered. In these circumstances you will either need to prove 15 years of unbroken possession and complete the first registration form with the land registry or you will need to prove your ownership through other evidence which is known as “reconstitution of title”. This is an intricate process, so the assistance of an experienced conveyancer or solicitor is invaluable. Our experienced property team can assist you with this.
Reconstitution of the Title
The land registry will need to see as much evidence as possible from you to show that you are the owner. The land registry makes decisions regarding lost deeds on a case by case. Evidence they hope to see includes:
- A statement from you about the circumstances surrounding how the deeds came to be lost and what efforts you have made to locate the deeds;
- Information about who had possession of the deeds and why they had possession;
- Evidence of any mortgage on the property;
- Evidence of your possession of the property such as utility bills or evidence of rents you have received or evidence that you inherited the property;
- Any letters from your solicitor when you purchased the property or from the seller’s solicitor;
- Probate details and death certificates for previous owners;
- Details about the property and plans showing the property boundaries;
- Friends and family members can also provide statements supporting your accounts to the land registry;
- Evidence of any mortgage or liens on the property.
The land registry will then review this evidence and determine if they have enough information to register the property with a possessory title. This means that you do not hold the deeds to the property and may affect the value of the property, but lenders may still provide loans on a possessory title. After 12 years a possessory can be upgraded to absolute title which gives an unequivocal right of ownership to you.
Please contact our experienced Property team at on 0207 228 0017 if you require further information on how we can assist you if you have lost your property title.
Marie-Claire Long is a trainee solicitor in Hanne & Co’s Property department
HANNE & CO. CORONAVIRUS UPDATEIt's business as usual for us at Hanne & Co and we continue to offer the same high levels of service. Despite the restrictions on movement we are still able to see our clients online. And, of course, there's phone and email. Earlier bulletin and FAQs here.