Paperwork, paperwork and more paperwork! Whether you are buying, selling or both buying and selling a house, you know that paperwork plays a very large role in the process. One of the more important are the deeds of a house. What are deeds, where are they kept and why is it important to know how to access them?
We will answer all of your questions.
What Is the Deed of a House?
The deed is a legal document that shows the ownership history of your home and any land that accompanies it. If you buy or inherit a house, for example, and it is not registered, you simply apply with HM Land Registry. If it is, you still register it if you’ve bought it, been given it or exchanged another property for it. If you have a conveyancer or solicitor handling your sale/purchase, they will do this on your behalf and provide you with a copy of your deed.
Tracking down an original deed can be tricky, if not impossible, especially if the property has been bought and sold multiple times.
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. However, a copy from HM Land Registry is perfectly sufficient in its stead.
You can search the Land Registry to see if your house is registered.
Now, why is it a good idea to register your property and obtain a copy?
Why You Need Deeds of a House
There are some key reasons why it is important to register your house with the Land Registry, even if, strictly speaking, you do not have to. Whether compulsory or voluntary, this will give you deeds of a house and access to documents like the title register. Why do you need deeds of a house?
- Provides proof of ownership. While deeds of a house are not considered ‘proof’ of ownership in a court case (you will need the title register for this), it does provide a record that you are the rightful, legal owner of this house and any accompanying property.
- Gives you a chance to correct issues with property boundaries. In some cases, you may have problems in regards to property boundaries. For example, you may want to make changes, such as building a fence separating your property from the neighbouring property. If you are not sure of the boundaries, this can cause some headaches. The deed and title register do not give exact boundaries, but they will give you a general idea. You can also make corrections if the information entered in the registry are not accurate.
- Helps protect you from property fraud. Property fraud is an increasingly serious and frequent problem. There are various methods that scammers can use to defraud you. For example, they may obtain falsified identification, pose as you and sell your land right out from under you. Registering your property is an important step to take to protect yourself. You can also set up a Property Alert. This is a free monitoring service that sends you email alerts when specified activities take place on your registered properties. While they cannot stop such activities per se, you will have the ‘heads up’ that nefarious actions are being taken.
You can also put restrictions on your title. That stops the Land Registry from registering a sale on your property unless a solicitor or conveyancer certifies that the application was actually made by you. These are two solid ways to safeguard your property from fraudsters.
You can request a copy of your deed through the Land Registry, where they are stored digitally. It is an easy, straightforward process, as is registering your home. Fees are very reasonable as well.
The deeds of a house are one of the more important pieces of paperwork involved in buying, selling and owning a property. Make sure you visit HM Land Registry to obtain copies of pertinent records. And make sure you sign up for Property Alert and, if you feel it is necessary, put restrictions in place on your title. All of this can help give you a large measure of reassurance and peace of mind.