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.

4 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
  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

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