Many people think that there must be a massive library somewhere holding rack-upon-rack of dusty old folders containing the title deeds for every property in the country. This is not the case.

HM Land Registry was first created in 1861 and since the 1980s it has been compulsory that all new transactions involving the sale of land are registered on the Land Registry’s electronic database. Every day 400 new registrations are made as a property that is not yet registered is bought or sold for the first time since this regulation came into force. As of September 2019, 87% of all property in England and Wales is now registered.

Once your property is registered there is no specific need for you to physically hold the deeds. However, mortgage lenders may hold the title deeds during the term of the mortgage or ask that your solicitor does so. They will also register a ‘charge’ on your property to declare and protect their interest as the mortgagee, meaning that you will not be able to sell or remortgage the property without their consent. ‘Deeds’ might refer to documents such as land conveyances, wills, leases, mortgage deeds or contracts for sale.

Once you have paid off your mortgage you will want to make sure that the charge on your property is cleared. You may well also want the physical deeds held by the mortgagee. If you don’t have a mortgage your solicitor may hold them on your behalf. However, nowadays, there is no absolute requirement in law for the seller to forward the deeds to the buyer. Your proof of ownership rests in the Land Registry. That said, other information such as boundary information, etc may be included in the deeds and so it is prudent to keep the Title Deeds safe.

If the mortgagee holds your title deeds they will probably require an administration payment to release them. This is usually £50 - £100 but may vary over time and is subject to the terms of your mortgage agreement. You might want to keep them safe or pass them to your family lawyer for them to store them in secure document storage for which, they may make a small charge. Alternatively, you can keep them safe at home.

You can search the Land Registry to see if your title deeds are registered and to find out your title number. If they are, you can search for a scanned copy at HM Land Registry.

If, when you come to sell your property, you are unable to find your deeds, several companies offer insurance to cover buyers in the event that an unknown legal problem with the title, such as an easement or restrictive covenant, later comes to light.

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