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There are many reasons why you might want to obtain copies of the title documents relating to a property. Perhaps you are trying to resolve a boundary dispute, or you need to understand what covenants might bind the land. Maybe you want to check for rights affecting it or you might be considering buying it.

It’s relatively easy to buy copies of documents but it can be harder to understand what you’re looking at once you do! That’s where the latest edition to our suite of services, the Title Report, comes in. As well as establishing what documents of title the Land Registry holds for the property you’re interested in and providing them our report cuts through the “legalese” and explains the key points in plain English. We cover the following:

Legal Ownership and Purchase Details

We will tell you who the registered legal owners of the property are, when they bought it and if after 2000, how much they paid as well as the owner’s “address for service”. This is the address that the owner has given to Land Registry as a correspondence address and can be useful if the owner doesn’t live at the property (for example because it is rented out).

Boundaries

The Land Registry filed plan (often referred to as the title plan) shows the general boundary only. It gives a good indication as to the true position of the legal boundary but is not definitive and cannot be relied upon absolutely. Sometimes the deeds will, either by reference to other plans or in the description of the land, give a more definitive answer and sometimes they will not. We explain wht evidence there is of the legal boundary and what assumptions you should make if there is no evidence.

As well as the position of the boundary, the responsibility for maintaining it is an issue that affects many people and can lead to disputes. Again, if the deeds clearly indicate who is responsible we’ll explain it to you and if they don’t, we’ll tell you that too.

Covenants

A covenant is an obligation to perform some action, or refrain from performing some action, on land. Covenants exist in addition to the normal planning and other laws and are usually imposed by the original land owner when a property is built. They exist for the benefit of neighbouring land and relate to such things as what development activity can be carried out on the land, responsibility for maintaining boundary features etc.

Understanding the covenants is important because they can affect your use and enjoyment of the property. Failure to to comply with a covenant can lead to the beneficiary taking legal action, including seeking an award for compensation or an injunction preventing the breach from continuing.

We try to explain what the particular covenants mean and where possible, who might be able to enforce them.

Rights / Easements

It may be that the property enjoys rights over the land of another, for example rights of way or to use the services which cross other land and serve the property. Legal easements attach to the land and are automatically transferred to the purchaser when the property is sold. Understanding what rights come with the land is important not only so that you know what rights you can exercise but also what rights you can’t. To properly appreciate the title you are buying you need to know what rights you do have then study the land and work out if there are any rights you might need but don’t have.

Our title report details the rights as well as any that others have over your land. You need to know about these two as they may restrict what you can do with the property (because you cannot legally interfere with a legal easement).

Restrictions on Title

A restriction is not to be confused with a restriction covenant. It is in fact an entry on the register of title which is intended to prevent a change of ownership and/or a mortgage or financial charge being registered until certain conditions are satisfied. This can involve serving a notice, paying off a debt, obtaining a consent or entering into a deed of covenant, amongst other things. Sometimes the restriction is intended to prevent the registered proprietor from selling at all (a bankruptcy restriction where there is a sole proprietor for example).

Understanding any restrictions on the title is therefore essential for a purchaser as, if you can’t satisfy the conditions to comply with or remove them, you cannot be registered as the owner. If you are not registered as the owner you can never sell or mortgage the property or leave it to a relative when you die.

Our report picks out any restrictions that are registered, explains what effect they have and either what must be done to comply with or remove them, or if the information isn’t contained in the title then where best to make enquiries.

Mortgages and Financial Charges

Mortgages, financial charges and other debts secured against the property need to be repaid from the proceeds (or other funds of the seller) when the property is sold. If they are not and they remain on the title after registration then the creditors may enforce their security powers against you. They means they can repossess and sell the property to cover the debt they are owed. It is essential therefore that these are identified and steps are taken to ensure they are dealt with by the seller.

Leases

If the property leasehold then you will need to read and understand the lease in order to fully appreciate the title you are buying and all the legal rights and obligations that go with it. It can be a long and complex document. Our report cuts out the “filler” text and takes you through the key points which you need to understand.

Of course, you don’t have to purchase a title report but be warned, purchasing legal title documents without an explanation as to what they mean can be a waste of money or worse, dangerous.

You can see our sample Freehold Title Report here

You can see our sample Leasehold Title Report here

Order our Land Registry Title Reports here

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