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Mortgages Explained – The Role of the Land Registry

For the uninitiated, buying a home can be a confusing and long process!

As part of our ongoing expansion we will be offering up some useful blog and Knowledge Base posts that can help explain the process of buying a home in greater detail.

Introducing the Land Registry

Her Majesty’s Land Registry is a non-ministerial department of the Government of the United Kingdom, created in 1862 to register the ownership of land and property in England and Wales. It reports to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The equivalent office in Scotland is the Registers of Scotland. Land and Property Services maintain records for Northern Ireland.

HM Land Registry registers the ownership of property. It is one of the largest property databases in Europe.

Like land registration organisations in other countries, HM Land Registry guarantees title to registered estates and interests in land. It records the ownership rights of freehold properties, and leasehold properties where the lease has been granted for a term exceeding seven years.

The definition of land can include the buildings situated upon the land, particularly where parts of buildings at different levels (such as flats) are in different ownership. It is also possible to register the ownership of the mines and minerals which lie within the ground, as well as airspace above property where this is in separate ownership.

Until April 2020, HM Land Registry received no government funding, being required to ensure that its income covers expenditure, and finances itself from registration and search fees. As of April 2020, HM Land Registry receives a budget from HM Treasury which is offset by the fees the Land Registry charges. This change was the result of HM Land Registry’s trading fund being revoked. It provides online access to its database of titles (ownership and charges or interests by other parties) and most plans (maps). People need to pay a fee to access some information.

The Benefits of Land Registry

Registration establishes proof of ownership and produces an easy-to-read document reflecting the contents of all the paper title deeds. This simplifies conveyancing, making transactions easier and potentially less costly for all involved.

All title information is kept on HM Land Registry’s database, reducing the need to store old and often unclear deeds. The register can be viewed quickly and securely online.

There is no better way to safeguard ownership of land and property than by registering your title with us. State-backed registration gives you greater security of title, providing you with better protection against claims of adverse possession

Registering a title provides a “Title Plan” which is normally not definitive, but which identifies the land within the title on the Ordnance Survey map. It is important that the original title deeds are retained as they will provide a starting point if ever it is necessary to identify the precise position of the boundaries.

In addition to being the government body that registers the ownership of land and property in England and Wales, HM Land Registry is also a useful tool for property investors who use the online price calculator to query the latest monthly residential property prices. The government is also using the land registry data to assess property values for tax purposes.

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