It is now 27 years since the introduction of Compulsory Registration of properties at the Land Registry following changes of ownership. We still regularly receive enquiries about title deeds of registered properties, and so here we will look at what title deeds are, where they are kept for properties registered at Land Registry, and whether you need them.
What are my deeds?
Title deeds show the chain of ownership for land and property. Among a whole range of legal documents, they often include conveyances, mortgages, leases, trust deeds and grants of probate.
For properties registered at Land Registry, your title deeds are held electronically comprising the Register of Title and Title Plan, as well as any other title documents of which they have retained scanned copies.
Where are my title deeds?
HM Land Registry records are digital; as such they generally do not store paper title deeds. Usually they will only hold them while registering the deeds for a property for the first time, return the original title deeds to whoever submitted the application for first registration but only when copies of the originals are provided to Land Registry. These are commonly known as pre-registration title deeds.
Consequently, if you are trying to locate your original deeds, they are likely to be with the solicitor or conveyancer who acted for you when you registered the property. It is now very rare for mortgage companies to hold pre-registration title deeds, particularly for mortgages created after 2000.
If the property was already registered when you bought it, the seller may not have handed over the original deeds. There is no legal requirement for them to do so. Conversely there may not have been any pre-registration deeds to hand over, as it is Land Registry policy to destroy original title deeds submitted to them without copies once they have scanned those documents they deem relevant to the title and completed the registration of the property.
A copy of your registered title and the deeds can be downloaded from the Land Registry section of the gov.uk website. Alternatively, your solicitor or conveyancer can download these from the Land Registry business portal for you.
If my property is registered at Land Registry, do I need my title deeds?
The Land Register is a definitive record of land and property ownership in England and Wales. If your property is registered with the Land Registry, you do not need the original deeds to confirm your ownership. If you have them, it is a good idea to keep the original deeds though, as they can hold extra information, such as about legal boundaries or the identity of previous owners.