https://hmlandregistry.blog.gov.uk/2018/02/19/title-deeds/

Where are my title deeds, and do I need them?

Title deeds

Before I worked here, I wondered if HM Land Registry was full of clerical staff pushing piles of paperwork around, like a scene from Terry Gilliam’s ‘Brazil’.

I was happy to discover that HM Land Registry is actually very forward-looking and is using digital technology to transform how land registration works.

I think some of our customers may have a similarly false impression though. They are often disappointed to learn that we don’t have their original title deeds, stored in a library of dusty ledgers!

So, what are title deeds, where are they kept, and do you need them?

What are title deeds?

Title deeds are paper documents showing the chain of ownership for land and property. They can include:

  • conveyances;
  • contracts for sale;
  • wills;
  • mortgages; and
  • leases.

Where are my title deeds?

HM Land Registry records are digital, so we don’t store paper title deeds.

Generally, we only have the original title deeds when land or property is registered for the first time, as we need them to prepare the register. We create scanned copies of some deeds and then return all the original title deeds to whoever lodged them. This is usually the solicitor or conveyancer acting on behalf of the buyer.

So, if you’re trying to track down your original deeds, they could be with the solicitor who acted for you when you bought the property, or possibly with your mortgage company, if you have a mortgage.

If the property was already registered when you bought it, the seller may not have handed over the original deeds. There’s no requirement for them to do so. Tracing the original deeds for a property that has been bought and sold many times is likely to be an impossible task.

If you want to see a scanned copy of the deeds that we have on file, start by searching our property information and finding your property’s title number. If the register refers to deeds being filed, we should have copies. You can then get a copy of your deeds.

Do I need my title deeds?

Our Land Register is the definitive record of land and property ownership in England and Wales. So, if your property is registered with us, you don’t need the deeds to confirm your ownership. It’s a good idea to keep the original deeds though, as they can hold extra information, about legal boundaries or who the previous owner was, for example.

If your property isn’t on the register and you choose to apply for first registration, you'll need to submit the original deeds to us. If your deeds have been lost or destroyed, it can make things more complicated, so I’d always recommend keeping them in a safe place.

13 comments

  1. Comment by Donald Gray posted on

    Many lenders won't hold mortgage deeds for residential properties and expect the client or solicitor to hold them so I think your comments about deeds being held by a mortgage company is generally incorrect.

    Also one other reason to hold title deeds is to help to identify who might have the benefit of an easement or a restrictive covenant. I have seen many entries which recite the terms of a transfer or conveyance which refer to "retained land" but there is nothing on the face of the register to tell you where the retained land might be. Sometimes you can do this by obtaining adjoinging titles but you can imagine how expensive and time consuming that can be when there have been many sales such as a residentiasl estate or in an urban area.

    Reply
    • Replies to Donald Gray>

      Comment by Frank Ramsay posted on

      Thanks for your comments, Donald. I agree that it is more likely for the deeds to be held by a solicitor or conveyancer. I mentioned mortgage companies because I wanted to present all the options available to somebody trying to track down their deeds.

      I also agree that if you have your paper deeds, you should keep them to be able to check any additional information. I do state this, but don’t mention every reason for wanting to keep them, as this is a general guide.

      Reply
      • Replies to Frank Ramsay>

        Comment by Zaeem posted on

        That is incorrect. Some lenders may store title deeds.

        Reply
        • Replies to Zaeem>

          Comment by Frank Ramsay posted on

          Hello Zaeem, I clearly state in the blog that your title deeds may be "with your mortgage company, if you have a mortgage". I agreed with Donald that it was less likely for them to held by lenders, though. Hope this is clear.

          Reply
  2. Comment by Anthony Howarth posted on

    Thank you for this helpful blog, Frank. I feel though that we should not overlook the elephant in the room in that the Land Registry’s scanning process has not been infallible and I would have thought that a substantial proportion of your audience has, at one time or another, been told that the Registry does not have a copy of a document that is referred to as being “filed”.

    In the above circumstances, whilst the Registry is happy to indemnify the registered proprietor , the production of the original deed (or a certified copy) by a disponor or other party is vastly preferable.

    Reply
    • Replies to Anthony Howarth>

      Comment by Frank Ramsay posted on

      Hello Anthony. I agree with you that original deeds (or certified copies) are preferable in this circumstance.

      I would add that if anyone believes that our records are incomplete, they should get in touch and submit their original deeds so that we can make updates or corrections. It's in all of our interests for the Land Register to be as accurate and rich in detail as possible.

      Reply
  3. Comment by Tim Higham posted on

    Deeds have taken on a far greater definition as any buyers lawyer will know, they end up with a bundle at the end of a purchase and almost certainly send them to their client (for storage reasons) and they will be:
    1. Council consents
    2. Guarantees
    3. FENSA and Oil/has/electrical certificates
    4. Covenant/landlord consents
    5. Searches
    6. The original lease
    7. Management information
    8. Share certificates
    9. New built warranties

    Firms who say they hold nothing as all dematerialised are lazy as they should seek that pack.

    Reply
  4. Comment by Sandra N. Rees posted on

    As my husband and I had paid off our mortgage aprox 6 months ago I enquired about having the original deeds returned. I was horrified to be told by a flippant member of staff that Land Registry did not have them. They are a historical document and wanted them returned. Enquired with HSBC (lender) and solicitor but could not advise me at all. I contacted the Western Mail who noted the story.
    I think it is disgusting that we were not advised by either department what was the procedure and I still want our deeds returned !!!!!

    Reply
    • Replies to Sandra N. Rees>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Sandra - I'm sorry if we were flippant in our handling of your call. We don't hold original deeds/documents and this blog post explains how they are returned to the applicant after first registration. I can see we have a record of a contact by phone from you in April 2017 and the record includes an email reply also. I'll pick that up and email you again with a bit more specific insight into what, in my experience, may have happened re. any original deeds.

      Reply
  5. Comment by Jim Kendall posted on

    I have become very aware of how efficient the Land Registry is or was. 21 years ago I purchased my house and the front garden & driveway outside the building were added to my plot, from the original plans. Now I have found that this extra land has been placed on-top of my house and my next door neighbour still owns all the land up to my front windows. Surely someone at the L.R. must have noticed you cannot put a garden & driveway on-top of a two story house?

    Reply
  6. Comment by Mike posted on

    A really insightful overview of some of Land Registry's purpose and practices there, dispelling some previously held perceptions too. Trying to hunt down title deeds and being unsure of who may have them in the past is exactly why it is so vital to have, and maintain, the register.

    Reply
  7. Comment by Janice posted on

    I have just bought a house only to be told by solicitor that nobody knows where the original deeds for the property are located, as the property was built in 1892 I am sure that the original deeds would hold a lot of information regarding my property some of which I might need to know but will now never find out

    Reply

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