We get lots of enquiries as to the process or background of various functions of Land Registry, so Adam (Customer Service Representative at Land Registry) has volunteered to shed a little light on the subject of title deeds:
Historically, title deeds were a series of documents showing how a property had changed hands over time or been mortgaged and so on. Once it was registered, those title deeds were used to create a registered title and a title certificate was issued; many people called that the title deed.
Nowadays, we no longer issue these certificates and everything is digitalised. People still expect there to be something physical to hold and which they can call the ‘deed’ but the computer record makes that unnecessary.
Where would I find my deeds?
If your property is registered (currently over 80% of land and property in England & Wales is) and you want to confirm ownership, check online or apply for an official copy by post at any time.
Documents for unregistered properties are often kept with a solicitor/bank, at home in a drawer or collecting dust under the bed. If your property is mortgaged, they could be with the lender.
The same may apply if you have a registered property, as old deeds lodged with us to create the initial title will have been returned to the applicant at the time.
If your property is unregistered and your deeds have gone missing, see our guide ‘First registration of title if deeds are lost or destroyed (PG2)’. If your property is registered, stop looking! The record of ownership will be on our database and the old deeds shouldn’t be needed.
Read more about where are my deeds kept.
The important points
- We maintain the central record of legal ownership of all registered land and property in England & Wales
- If your land or property is registered then the old deeds and documents have little or no value as far as proving your ownership
- Old deeds can still have a wider value as they may contain additional information which may not be registered but could prove helpful in the future for example repair and maintenance obligations or other details on boundaries or reference to names of historical/personal interest – so don’t just throw them away
- If your land or property is unregistered then you should keep your deeds safe but you may wish to consider registering your ownership instead
The process is much smoother now, but just imagine how much effort went in to hand crafting these initial deeds. Beautiful aren’t they?