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Registering your Property Rights

According to Land Registry statistics, approximately 25% of property in England and Wales remains unregistered. All land has an owner; it being unregistered just means there is no record of it with The Land Registry. A portion of that unregistered land may be owned by a business, local authority, charity or other such body. the Land Registry estimates that 20% of that land is rural, which suggests a portion is owned by farmers/estate owners.

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Land registration is now compulsory in the UK when properties change ownership or are being mortgaged for the first time. Examples include transfers of land by sale or gift, by an assent, a deed of appointment of a new trustee or by a court order. The full range is set out on The Land Registry website.

The unregistered land is land that has not been transferred, had a first mortgage since the compulsory registration came into force or been voluntarily registered.

Voluntary Registration

The Land Registry has recorded a rise in voluntary registration over the last 10 years for residential, commercial or agricultural properties.

There are certain benefits to voluntary registration, one being that the land registry fee is lower. The most important thing about property being registered is that it gives greater security of ownership, which means more protection against claims that may be made against it. Sometimes with commercial and agricultural property, until the deeds are reviewed, the owner may actually be unaware of exactly how much land they own or if they have other rights over pieces of land. This happens more frequently than you might think.

For voluntary registration, the Deeds to the property are carefully reviewed so that an accurate boundary of all land owned can be registered which clears up any uncertainty there may be.

Land that has been voluntarily registered can make it easier later if it is to be sold and can avoid additional delay. The Land Registry often have a large amount of work meaning registrations can take a while following submission.

If you are an owner of commercial or agricultural property/land which is unregistered, here at Lanyon Bowdler, our commercial and agricultural property team can assist you with voluntary first registration, including going through all of the deeds to ensure there is an accurate plan.

Other rights

Often commercial or agricultural property/land owners may have rights of way, easements or other such rights over land owned by another. This may be a formal or informal agreement. The best way to protect such a right is to have it registered at the Land Registry. Such rights can be important and they often relate to access, so protecting them can be vital.

If you believe you have a right over another piece of land or if you are just not sure, it is a good idea to ask about it as it might be something that could be protected by registration.

“The land is the only thing in the world worth working for, worth fighting for, worth dying for, because it's the only thing that lasts" Gerald O'Hara, Gone with the Wind.

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