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Did you know? – that ‘deeds’ are a thing of the past

Or certainly this is the case for property which has a registered title, which applies to some 70% of property in England and Wales.

Since the Land Registration Act 2002, came into force on 13 October 2003, no physical deed is now issued by the Land Registry when property changes hands or any other change is made to it. Instead the title is held by the Land Registry electronically. It is open to the public and anyone can view this.

As a result lenders who traditionally held ‘deeds’ no longer do so. Before 2003 conveyancers would need to wait for deeds to be released by the lender before the contract could be prepared. Initially, after 2003 we would wait until copy title entries from the Land Registry arrived in the post. Now we obtain then directly from the Land Registry online within minutes.

Is there a downside? Well from a conveyancer’s point of view, deeds packets were useful sources of information, containing planning details and documents which might assist in dealing with enquires raised by buyers. Otherwise the lack of a physical deed will have contributed to an increase in fraud.

And for unregistered property? Where property has been in the same ownership for many years and the title is not registered at the Land Registry is it essential the deeds are retained in safekeeping. Reconstructing a title where deeds are lost can be a lengthy and costly exercise. Owners of unregistered property may voluntarily apply for their title to this to be registered.

Need more information ?

For more information, or to instruct us to apply to the Land Registry for the registration of your title please speak to your usual Wards contact, or email Susan Ellis onsusan.ellis@wards.uk.com.

This guide is not intended to be definitive or to act as a substitute for legal advice.

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