Land Registry

Her Majesty’s Land Registry was created in 1862. It operates within the United Kingdom and is a government department that is non-ministerial. Its function is the registration of the ownership of land and property located within Wales and England.

Her Majesty’s Land Registry is not privy to any government funding which means its income is what pays for its expenditure and cost of operations. It funds itself by collecting search and registration fees from UK land owners. The UK land registry’s database of titles is accessible online but a fee might be required before certain information is accessible. Information that’s generally sought on the database includes maps, and current owners of specified properties.

A property owner whose UK property has not been registered can easily apply for registration at the Land registry. Provisions in the Land Registration Act of 2002 provides owners of registered UK properties protection against trespassers such as squatters or other elements seeking to unlawfully settle on a land.

What is the function of the UK Land Registry?

Her Majesty’s Land Registry is responsible for registering ownership of all landed property within the UK.

Similar to the land registration bodies of most countries, the UK Land Registry provides a guaranteed title to all estates that are registered. It also ensures the property interests of a registered owner. It accomplishes this by documenting ownership rights of freehold titles, and also leasehold titles that have a lease of more than seven years.

Also, with the payment of a small fee, anybody is capable of inspecting the Land Register to find the name and address of a registered property’s current owner. This function is also available online.

The Land Registry also provides a useful and efficient tool that helps property investors calculate the market value of a property. This tool is an online price calculator which answers queries concerning recent market prices of residential properties. The values provided by this tool are also used by the government to calculate property values for the purpose of determining how much a citizen should pay as property or income taxes.

What are the benefits of registering property with Her Majesty’s Land Registry?

Registering the title of a property provides certain undeniable benefits, some of which include;

  • Real estate that is registered is easier to transact with. That is, if the title of a land has been registered at the Land Registry, its owner will find it much easier and cheaper to efficiently trade with the land.
  • Registering a property provides a clear and uncontroversial statement of who the true owner of a property is by setting a clear record of ownership. This way, evidence can easily be provided to prove ownership if title of the land ever comes under dispute. Having such evidence also makes the land much easier to market and sell or lease.
  • A property registered with the Land Registry is assured of government protection to a certain degree. Especially from squatters and other forms of exploitation.
  • It’s easier and less costly to settle boundary disputes if a property has been officially registered at Her Majesty’s Land Registry.
  • Registering a property facilitates exercises such as property valuations. A property valuators job is much more difficult and expensive if a property is unregistered.
  • It provides an easy-to-read document that clearly states all important facts concerning the description and ownership of a property.

Where is Her Majesty’s Land Registry located?

The Land Registry can be found in any of the following 14 offices across the UK;

  • Telford,
  • Swansea,
  • Plymouth,
  • Peterborough,
  • Nottingham,
  • Leicester,
  • Kingston upon Hull,
  • Gloucester,
  • Fylde (Warton),
  • Durham,
  • Croydon,
  • Coventry,
  • Birkenhead

But the head office of the Registry is located in Croydon while its in-house Land Charges Departments as well as its IT department can be found in Plymouth.

Who is in charge of the Land Registry?

Every local land registry office is headed by an Area Manager. The entire organization is headed by the Chief Land Registrar as well as the Chief Executive – the roles are combined. Her Majesty’s Land Registry Board assists the Chief Land Registrar and is responsible for putting in place an overall strategy for the department. The current Chief Land Registrar is Graham Farrant who has been in the position since 2015.

Land registration applications that are disputed are settled by the Adjudicator to Her Majesty’s Land Registry. The Adjudicator is an independent office that was created by the Land Registration Act of 2002.

What is the origin of Her Majesty’s Land Registry?

The Royal Commission on Registration of Title in 1857 first suggested a land registration system that would be supervised and run by a central registry. This central registry was to be located in London and have district offices across the UK. This eventually led to the introduction of the Land Registry Act in 1862.

The 1862 Act made provisions for property owners to register both long leasehold and freehold landed properties. The first Chief Land Registrar, Brent Spencer Follett, opened in 1862 the Land Registry’s first office. It was located at 34 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London.

Originally, land registration was not mandatory. But this proved to be a flawed system brought on by inadequacies in the 1862 Act. This led to the introduction of the Land Transfer Act of 1875, which is the basis of present day’s Land Registry Act.

The Land Transfer Act was updated 1897 and it was this update that introduced the compulsion of property owners to register all subsequent transactions carried out on a registered property. But it was the 1990 amendment to the act that enforced compulsory registration across the whole of England and Wales. It was also at this time that the Land Register became available for public inspection.

The Land Registration Act of 2002 makes room for the future mandatory introduction of electronic conveyancing. This permits transfer and registration of property with electronic signatures . Because of this, the Land and Charge Certificates are no longer applicable.

In January 2014, a proposal was made to privatise the Land Registry. Till date the proposal is still being massively rejected.

Published on 6th June 2017

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