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.

69 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
    • Replies to Anthony Howarth>

      Comment by Laura McConnell posted on

      Totally agree! I have applied for two documents this week, on different properties, which are stated as “copy filed” but then they are no longer available!

      Reply
      • Replies to Laura McConnell>

        Comment by AdamH posted on

        Laura - a register may refer to them as 'copy field' but once the file is retrieved they may be 'missing'. Unfortunately it can happen but it is very rare. Apologies if that is the case here

        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
  8. Comment by John posted on

    I purchased a house 5 years ago without title deeds, but was offered an indemnity policy to set up the means for compensation should someone with a superior title ever show up, which I was told was virtually a Zero chance scenario. The property is registered with the Land registry in my name, so theoretically the missing deeds should not be an issue. However, when speaking to a potential mortgage provider today over a new deal, I was told "we steer clear of any property where there may be any chance at all of a risk to our security". My question is, am i left with a house that I cant sell in the future, if mortgage providers are this concerned ?

    Reply
    • Replies to John>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      John - if a buyer's mortgage lender won't secure against that risk then yes but not all buyers/lenders will take that view in my experience. Lenders will vary considerably re such matters not only re a Yes/No but in their reasons for either decision so in my experience I would not say you are left with a house you cannot sell.

      Reply
      • Replies to AdamH>

        Comment by John posted on

        Thanks Adam. Its obviously a concern for me as it changes the playing field a bit when we come to moving on. I may be unduly worried, but I'm going to seek some professional legal conveyancing advice on where I stand / what the implications are for the future. I went into the purchase with sound legal advice, but I think its time to revisit the situation. Much appreciated.

        Reply
        • Replies to John>

          Comment by AdamH posted on

          John - understood and very much the right thing to do. All I can usefully add is that a 'possessory title is not unusual and very commonplace.

          Reply
  9. Comment by Gillian posted on

    Hi hoping you can help with my inquiry. I paid off my mortgage on February 10th and was told I would receive paper work in 10 - 14 days, after many phone calls 17 days later and still no paper work I am now told the mortgage was discharged on the 26th and the Land Registry have been informed. My question is will I actually get any paper work from the Land Registry to make it official? If so how long should it take? I do have a bundle of old documents which I believe includes the original deeds. Thank you Gillian.

    Reply
    • Replies to Gillian>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Gillian - most lenders remove their mortgage electronically and they receive a confirmaiton from us what that has happened. We do not routinely notify the actual owner/borrower. If you wish to check/confirm the current registered details then you can do that online using the link in the blog article itself

      Reply
  10. Comment by Bill posted on

    Hi
    For some one to make a claim on a property that has been devided in percentage, are they required to produce the original? As they only have a photocopy of the document

    Reply
    • Replies to Bill>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Bill - if they are looking to claim a % of the beneficial ownership then that is something to get legal advice on. Such a claim would in my experience be a matter of law and not a registration issue

      Reply
  11. Comment by Neil Hartley posted on

    Hi,
    We're in the process of buying a house and our solicitor has said that "when the property was first registered at the Land Registry details of easements and restrictions were not provided to the Land Registry and the seller has no information at all about this or the previous deeds other than a photocopy of a 1968 deed when the land was first conveyed".
    An indemnification policy was suggested to protect us but my concern is that we will have an issue selling the property later (possibly to someone needing a mortgage per the comment from John above). Our solicitor initially suggested the policy would be a good solution but then suggested we may be creating a problem for the future. Do you have any advice for us?

    Reply
    • Replies to Neil Hartley>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Neil - I'm afraid we can't really offer any additional guidance here and you should rely on your solicitor. I suspect the issue they are referring to relates to what is known as a 'protective entry' on the register that states that the title is subject to any easements/covenants which may have existed prior to the 1968 deed but we do not know if any exist or not. This entry can appear where deeds have bene lost or are not produced so it is there to protect against someone coming forward with an old deed that affects
      In my experience in the past such entries posed few problems for buyers/lenders but the perception of risks has changed over the years and it is quite common for indemnity policies to be sought to insure against those risks. I'm not aware that having such a policy then poses a different or wider risk but your solicitor/lender may be able to explain why they think that may be the case. After all the entry and any perceived risk will still be there, indemnity policy or not.

      Reply
      • Replies to AdamH>

        Comment by Neil Hartley posted on

        Thanks for your input Adam...

        Reply
        • Replies to Neil Hartley>

          Comment by John posted on

          Hi Neil,

          Just to add a bit more of my own story for you, I have since provided all my documents to the new mortgage provider (we are moving from one bank to another) and they were satisfied that the Title absolute in my name and the indemnity policy was satisfactory to approve the mortgage. I have also checked with a property solicitor who commented that the paper deeds are largely only to confirm restrictive covenants or access. He also said, "once you have Title Absolute, stop worrying." In my case, the property was only built 7 years ago on a piece of land that never had a house on it before, so the odds of someone turning up with a superior claim are virtually nil.

          Reply
  12. Comment by Jason posted on

    Hi, My mother is selling her house but has lost the deeds. I have downloaded a document via the land registry site that gives a title number and names my mother as the registered owner...so I think this means that land registry holds digital copies of the deeds and she needn't worry about the sale of her house. Her solicitor has said nothing can be done without the deeds to her house so will have to apply for them from the land registry which could delay the sale by 4/5 weeks. I'm confused...can you help explain what the position is please?

    Reply
    • Replies to Jason>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Jason - as the article explains if the property is registered then the deeds are not needed to prove her ownership. I'd check back with the solicitor for clarification as to why a delay

      Reply
  13. Comment by Troy posted on

    I am pretty disgusted at what I am reading here and am no clearer on the position than before I started reading. In 2016 we paid off our mortgage in full; such a relief. Cheltenham and Gloucester plc were asked to provide the title deeds to me and a delayed standard letter in the form of a flippant dismissal referred me to Land Registry. I paid the appropriate fees for "electronic copies of ownership, map" etc......but I still want the original paper deeds and have found both the lender and HMLR to be assumptive and unhelpful. C&G are now deceased and trying to find the right contact point at Lloyds Bank has been HELL. Somewhere in England the title deeds, rightfully belonging to me and my wife, are in a bundle gathering dust. I want the original documents and no one seems to want to help. Thinking of taking this to my MP and the press

    Reply
    • Replies to Troy>

      Comment by ianflowers posted on

      Troy - I am sorry for the difficulties you have experienced at that you feel we were unhelpful. As mentioned in the blog, it is the case that we return the original documents to the person who lodged them when a property is registered for the first time - usually to the solicitor acting. We should be able to confirm this and provide any other information that may be relevant from our files.

      The usual practice where a property was subject to a mortgage was for the solicitors to pass the deeds onto the lender, but we have no control or involvement in this and therefore we cannot confirm whether this happened in a particular case. Many lenders converted their records to electronic format in recent times and their approach on dealing with original paper title deeds varied. Again, this is something that we are not involved with and you would need to continue to take this up with the lender involved and follow their complaints process if you remain unhappy.

      Reply
  14. Comment by Rachael posted on

    I have found the deeds to a property I no longer own. What on earth should I do with them?

    Reply
    • Replies to Rachael>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Rachael - I would suggest writing to the 'Owner' at the address to see if they would like them for example

      Reply
      • Replies to AdamH>

        Comment by Rachael posted on

        Thanks Adam. That's a good idea, I'll try that.

        Reply
  15. Comment by S Scott posted on

    Can you please tell me which document I need to purchase from the Land Registry that would give me the details of any covenants relating to a freehold property.

    Reply
  16. Comment by Augur Pearce posted on

    A conveyance can easily impose a trust, and since the Register will never give details of that trust there are times when it is not simply 'a good idea' but essential to retain the deeds. Example: A gives Whiteacre to T (a trust corporation) for certain charitable purposes. Later T sells Whiteacre to B using the proceeds to buy Blueacre. If T now only holds register entries for Blueacre these may contain a charity restriction but won't indicate the purposes for which it is held. To ascertain those, one will need to refer to the Whiteacre conveyance.

    Reply
  17. Comment by Deborah Pottage posted on

    Don't no if I'm on right post
    I need a copy of the deeds of a property I no longer own but for when I did own it how do I get this

    Reply
  18. Comment by meg posted on

    Just paid our mortgage a week ago, and lender told us to order a copy of the tittle deeds from land registry. Can you please direct me on what to do or what application form do i need to fill up and payment if possible. Thank you

    Reply
  19. Comment by Clare posted on

    We have a certificate of lawfulness - how do we go about our next steps to gain deeds to the property or to get a loan against the property or anything similar for the future please ?

    Reply
    • Replies to Clare>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Clare - the term 'certificate of lawfulness; is not one that I have come across before. In England and Wales loegal owernship is proven by either possession of the deeds/documents inc a legal deed in your favour with unregistered land or a registered title confirming your ownership. It is that evidence that allows you to use the land/property as security for a loan for example

      Reply
  20. Comment by AH posted on

    Are there any way that I can find out where in the prosess of registration we are? Property (new build) was purchased and completed mid November 2017. The address is 6 Widvale Road,Mountnessing, CM15 0FF. Thank you

    Reply
    • Replies to AH>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      AH - I believe that one is Plot 24 on the development and the application was submitted on 23 January. The current average timescale for this type of application is around 66 working days so we still have a few weeks to go before I suspect it will be considered. If ther eis an urgency involved then I would recommend speaking to your solicitor and ask them to get in touch - they will know the process for doing so and the circumstances where we might be able to expedite the process

      Reply
  21. Comment by LeslieM posted on

    My elderly mother lives in a leasehold flat in Bushey, Herts. In order to query some actions of the managing agents, I am trying to obtain a copy of her lease, as she does not appear to have one in her files and the solicitors who acted for my parents' purchase in 2006 say that they do not keep copies of documents that long. Will the Land Registry have a copy of the lease and if so how do I go about requesting one? I have the property's title number.

    Reply
    • Replies to LeslieM>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      LeslieM - we may have a copy and I'd suggest checking the register first for the details. If the lease is refererd to and available then you can apply for a copy by post https://www.gov.uk/get-information-about-property-and-land

      Reply
      • Replies to AdamH>

        Comment by LeslieM posted on

        Adam thanks for your reply. There's no specific mention of a lease in the deeds. Can I use form OC2 to ask for "the lease" or do I need to provide additional information?

        Reply
        • Replies to LeslieM>

          Comment by AdamH posted on

          LeslieM - form OC2 is used to apply for a copy of the lease and you will need to confirm that it is a lease and it's date and title number as part of the form in panel 7. If you don't know the date/title number then you should check the register first

          Reply
  22. Comment by Laura McConnell posted on

    I disagree - a number of times I have telephoned the Land Registry before submitting first registration documents to be returned and I have always been advised that after the documents have been scanned they are destroyed & that I should request, when submitting the FR1, they are returned once they had been scanned. I think only once have original documents been returned!!

    Reply
    • Replies to Laura McConnell>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Laura - I am sorry if you have had a different experience re lodgement of your first registration application(s). Any original statutory declarations, statements of truth, subsisting leases, subsisting charges, certificates relating to Stamp Duty Land Tax or Land Transaction Tax and the latest document of title (such as the transfer to the applicant) will be retained, scanned and then destroyed. Apart from this, we will return the pre-registration deeds after registration.

      Reply
  23. Comment by Helen Aitken posted on

    I purchased a property in oct 2016, on checking the shaded ares on my deeds it looks like I have an a joining field, but neighbour said last owners gave it to her?, how can I check if this is true, surely there must be paperwork to prove this...do I consult solicitors or who

    Reply
  24. Comment by Pat posted on

    Was going to get my original deeds out of storage and keep them at home as I thought we would always be able to get copies if ours were destroyed. Now after reading the above comments I am not so sure this would be a good idea. Also if I do obtain my deeds should I check that the registry has copies of them?

    Reply
    • Replies to Pat>

      Comment by ianflowers posted on

      Pat - It really depends on whether your property is registered with us as referred to in the blog - if it is you can check to see if we hold copies of any of the deeds but it is likely that most will have been returned when the property was first registered. Also, whether your are satisfied that the current storage is secure. That something you'd need to consider, but you may want to get some independent advice on this, for example, from Citizen's Advice.

      Reply
  25. Comment by Christine posted on

    We bought a property a year ago but didn't receive title deeds - although our solicitor forwarded a bundle of documents from when building work was done 20 years ago or so. Now the fence on one side of the garden has blown down and we don't know who is responsible to fix it - would this be in the deeds and is it worth me paying to see if any title deeds exist?
    If I can't get the deeds how do we resolve the fence problem?

    Reply
    • Replies to Christine>

      Comment by ianflowers posted on

      Christine - If there are any additional deeds, they would normally have been returned by us after the property was first registered. You could check the title register and any copy documents referred to as filed as there is sometimes reference to the ownership/maintenance of boundary structures. But if found, these are usually only useful as a guide and our blog sets out the background to this - https://hmlandregistry.blog.gov.uk/2018/02/27/drawing-the-line-on-boundaries/ .

      Often there is no information available and then it comes down to neighbours agreeing a way forward.

      Reply
  26. Comment by Liam posted on

    As a person living in N Ireland you may not be able to answer this query for me. I purchased my house back in 1991 via a mortgage, can you tell me if it would have been registered with the relevant body's via my solicitor, it was originally built in 1915? I have the original deeds at home as I'm now mortgage free.

    Reply
  27. Comment by Sam Miller posted on

    We bought a house in May 2017, the vendor moved to America before it was completed. The house sale went through but our solicitors have been unable to transfer the title to ourselves as the proper paperwork was not sent from America by the vendors in an English Law format. Our solicitors are now having problems contacting the vendors and HM Land Registry say we cannot have the title transferred into our name until they sign the relevant paperwork to be sent to HM Land Registry. We are still not the legal owners of the property over twelve months later and now we want to sell the property and move and we are unable to do so. We keep hitting a dead end. Can our solicitors apply to court to get an order to have the title transferred or will we have to wait until the vendors get the right paperwork sent from America.

    Reply
    • Replies to Sam Miller>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Sam - if a court ordered it to be transferred and a judge then signed the Transfer deed then it is possible yes. But in my experience that is very rare but your solicitor will have far more experience of how necessary such an approach would be here. You would have to convince a judge that you had done everything possible and that there was absolutely no chance of it being sorted by your seller and if I have read your comment correctly that is not yet the case. But as I say your solicitor will have more experience of this as we see the end result rather than what takes place to achieve that result.

      Reply
  28. Comment by Hugh Buckeridge posted on

    I bought a converted barn in 2014 and in 2015 I became aware of easements affecting my property which the sellers were also not aware about when they bought the land from the farmer in 2004.
    If this document was on my neighbours deeds (he purchased in 2010 from the previous owner who purchased the farmhouse in 2002)why is it not on my file if it relates to my property.
    If the conveyancing solicitor for the farmer forgot in 2002 to send this document to the land registry how is it then "forgotten" in 2004 when he sold the land to the gentleman before me.
    It seems no one is responsible for my legal problems for the last two years.
    In addition in 2015 when my neighbour applied to the land registry to add the easements to my purchase deeds the land registry altered my documents even though I had written a long reply disagreeing with each of the three easements within the 21 days allocated for a reply.

    Reply
    • Replies to Hugh Buckeridge>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Hugh - it reads as if the issue has been raised with us already so it would be wrong to try and consider it here as this is a blog rather than a forum. If there are issues with how we have registered the titles involved and/or made changes then I would recommend you pursue those through the specific contact channel already used and/or seek legal advice

      Reply
  29. Comment by Li posted on

    Hi. My Gran is a widow and have passed away last year. I searched online and she left no will. Her property was co-owned with one of her son (my uncle) who we don't get on with. I got a copy of the latest register extract to show that my uncle is the only registered owner. Without going through the solicitors, how do I find out how the full ownership was transfer to my uncle. If I request a deed for the property, will it show this information?

    Reply
  30. Comment by LJK posted on

    I am selling my late fathers property. Must I surrender the title deeds upon completion or can I keep them as a memento. Would they be available to the purchaser online?

    Reply
    • Replies to LJK>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      LJK - entirely a matter between you and the buyer. Once a property is registered the proof of ownership is held by us in the form of an electronic register and title plan

      Reply
  31. Comment by david dearn posted on

    My Aunt passed away recently and left me her house in her will i am trying to put it up for sale but my estate agent says that they cannot sell the house without the deeds to prove her ownership, My aunt lived in her house since shortly after the second world war and it was her parents home before that. I have tried the land registry entering the postal code and house number but they hold no records so what can i do?

    Reply

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