Property deeds

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Property deeds

Postby Conveyancer » Fri May 05, 2006 10:38 pm

Strictly speaking a deed is a special type of document that is required for certain types of transaction. In particular it is required to create or transfer a legal interest in land – there are some exceptions, but they need not detain us.

Because of their frequent uses in the transfer of property the collection of documents needed to prove title to land are often referred to as the “title deeds”, even though some of those documents may not in fact be deeds in the strict meaning of the term. Some lawyers prefer to refer to “title documents”.

Now here is a surprise – if your land is registered there are no title deeds! By this I mean that no deeds are needed to prove your title. The title to your property is the register at HM Land Registry. Until recently the Land Registry issued land certificates, but this practice has now been discontinued – land certificates were in any event only evidence of what was on the title.

If your land is registered you may wonder what the significance is of the pile of documents that your conveyancer dumped on you after completion and think perhaps that they can be thrown away. The first thing is that some of the documents may not strictly be title documents in that they do not help to prove title, but they may still be important or useful. Such documents include planning permissions, wayleave agreements, guarantees for treatment to the property and NHBC certificates.

As for the documents that were needed to prove title to your property before it became registered (usually referred to as the pre-registration deeds or documents) for the most part they will be of little practical value. All the important rights and burdens and other relevant matters in them will have been recorded on the register of your title. The register is definitive and supersedes the paper documents. Of course the Land Registry sometimes slip up and miss something so there is no harm in checking the pre-registration documents against the register entries. If you think you have found an important mistake contact your conveyancer.

Having said that the pre-registration deeds are of little practical value, it is unwise to dispose of them without consulting your conveyancer as they are occasionally useful. Quite apart from that they do record the history of ownership before the land was registered and this information sometimes comes in handy.

What you should not do is rush to the pre-registration title documents when you have a boundary dispute and look at the plans on old deeds and think you have the answer to your problems. In this respect you must remember (quite apart from the limitations of the plans) that the register, which includes your title plan, is definitive and that, even if the plans were accurate when drawn, the boundary may have moved. For further information see http://www.gardenlaw.co.uk/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=2247

There will be no pre-registration deeds if your property was carved out of a larger registered property.

If your property is unregistered then you should not of course throw anything away. Indeed, you should not really be keeping the deeds at home. Deposit them with your bank or solicitor/licensed conveyancer. If you loose your deeds you will have to pay to sort the problem out; if someone else looses them they pay.
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Postby horse » Sat May 06, 2006 10:30 am

I would be obliged if anyone could enlighten me then for a deed to be executed would it have to be signed and sealed by each individual concerned or just one or two of the participants.
Also would the person(s) wishing to register an easment / R.O.W. against another property themselves have to be registered with the L.A. with thier property. T.I.A.
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Postby Conveyancer » Sat May 06, 2006 11:15 am

As is often the case there is not a simple answer.

When a property is transferred the transfer or conveyance needs to be signed by all the legal owners - if one does not sign the document is of no effect.

The buyer does not need to sign unless he is agreeing to do something, e.g. entering into covenants. Even then if he does not sign he will have been deemed to have signed on the basis that he accepted the conveyance or transfer with all the terms expressed in it. This follows the rule of equity that says "Equity regards as done that which ought to have been done."

In practice the Land Registry will require a buyer to sign a transfer if he ought to sign it.

When it comes to property documents other than transfers of property it all comes down to who is doing what. If you are a party who is granting or releasing a right then you need to sign and the same principle that you need to sign if you are agreeing to something applies.

Sometimes documents are executed in duplicate (or with more copies if there are more than two parties) and then all the parties sign all the copies and everyone gets a signed copy. In certain special cases, notably leases, one part is signed by the landlord and the other (called the counterpart) is signed by the tenant and the parts are exchanged on completion.

As to the registration of rights, please see here: http://www.gardenlaw.co.uk/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=2445
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Postby horse » Sat May 06, 2006 11:28 am

Thank You Conveyancer,
Last edited by horse on Mon May 08, 2006 8:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Conveyancer » Sat May 06, 2006 12:17 pm

The sealing of deeds by individuals was abolished in 1989. Before that (at least in the time period applicable to to about 99.999999 % of deeds that one is likely to come across) a seal was only ever a formality and consisted of a red wafer affixed to the paper, or in older deeds a wax seal. The absence of a seal is of no significance. If you have a deed where there are four signatures and only two seals the most likely explanation is that the adhesive has failed and the seals have fallen off. As for the conveyance without signatures a possible explanation is that the signatures appear on a page without any text and the person copying the document did not trouble to copy it.

It is quite possible for two deeds to be executed on the same day without one of them referring to the other.
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Postby Concerned Citizen » Wed Jul 19, 2006 7:43 pm

Thanks Conveyancer.

As a footnote to this - our previous property (built in 1929) came with a whole assortment of interesting documents that tracked changes in ownership of the land back into the mid 19th C. Not only were they beautiful things - lovingly hand written in Copperplate scripts (just like you imagine 'proper' legal documents should be) - but they turned out useful in a small dispute with the neighbours (resolved amongst ourselves) over who was responsible for the upkeep of a boundary (it was the neighbour!).

The boring land registry docs had no mention of this - so if we hadn't had these original documents it might have all got rather unpleasant.

CC
I am not legally qualified in any way - just interested through necessity
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Postby Clifford Pope » Thu Aug 27, 2009 2:58 pm

I naively used to imagine the Title Deeds looked like the ones in Monopoly. When I asked the solicitor if I could have mine he replied by all means, but they consist of several heavy metal trunks, and they would be safer in his keeping. It's interesting that he and his predecessors have not minded storing them free of charge for the last 130 years.
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Postby nessa1 » Tue Jun 08, 2010 9:38 am

Another query I am afraid. The estate I live on was built in the early 70's and the properties were sold on a leasehold basis (common in the Midlands I believe). When we bought ours in 1986 the vendor purchased the freehold, so that we would buy it from him as a freehold property. At the time of the purchase we were advised by our solicitor of various covenants that existed regarding the estate, which I assumed applied regardless of whether it was still leasehold or freehold. These covenants specified elements like painting the outside of the house every so many years, leaving the frontage open plan (so no fences and gates allowed) and excluding all commercial vehicles and caravans - although these could be parked in the back garden if accessible, as long as suitably screened from the road.
None of these covenants have ever caused us any problems, and indeed we were happy to be on an estate which had some control over its appearance. However, over the years it would appear others have chosen to totally ignore these specifications, so we have become inundated with transit vans, pick-ups, caravans and caravanettes, and one or two have even introduced fences, walls and gates. Quite frankly it has gone from being a nice tidy location, to a sea of delapidated vehicles parked anywhere they can get them - front garden, path etc.
I would like somebody to come along and remind these people how they should be occupying the estate, but have no idea -
1) who to contact (the council were unhelpful when I queried who can enforce)
2) whether buying the freehold somehow wipes out the covenants which had been drawn up against the property when it was leasehold.
Sorry about this one - my first post, but to be honest we try to maintain our property, keep the garden nice etc. and have become very despondent over the fact we seem to be alone. We paid over the odds to live here, and now the estate has gone downhill. As well as it becoming unpleasant and unsightly, the premium sale prices the properties used to command have gone down the pan too.
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Postby SYLVA » Tue Jun 08, 2010 6:14 pm

nessa1
Whilst I sympathise with you, I think you are on a ‘hiding to nothing’ to be able to revert back to the days when the estate was occupied by owners, who at the time, appreciated the aesthetic restrictions that were imposed to give uniformity and retain a sense of personal pride in their living environment.

Over recent years there has been a general decline in social attitudes, and couple this with a fluid housing market, ownership on private estates are not as static as years have gone by.
Add this to increased public ownership of cars, caravans, and ‘works vans’, then yes, some previously labelled ‘upmarket’ housing estates have now become ‘down-market’.

Admittedly this insidious breach of covenants is mostly low level, until one day someone objects and starts quoting covenants.

You may want to look at General Topics--------Parking van on own driveway--------Vicki100
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Postby Stoday » Tue Jun 08, 2010 9:51 pm

Nessa1 — here's a site where you can enter your postcode and find out if the neighbourhood in which you live is posh or a sh*thole. :D

http://www.upmystreet.com
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Postby nessa1 » Fri Jun 11, 2010 8:50 pm

Well I tried it and was astounded at just how inaccurate it was in describing the area. I know it does say it is based on similar postcodes (now how does that work), but virtually every element was not true of the location?
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Postby marym » Fri Jul 16, 2010 3:35 pm

Last year I discovered that the land registry no longer hold any old deeds relating to our property. Now all transfers are done on computer and the document will only record the new and previous owner. Land Registry dispose of the old, historic documents. I believe this may be by sending them to solicitors/conveyancers.

In our case the Deeds to our 140 year old house passed from the sellers' solicitor to our conveyancer in 2002.

As they were no longer considered "necessary", our conveyancer did not forward them on to us.

When I discovered this I tried to contact the conveyancer. The company has ceased trading. I sent a letter via the governing body of conveyancers (who would not release a new contact address, although apparently the person who acted for us is still registered) and heard nothing more.

Many, many old Deeds and documents relating to house history turn up on E-bay. I have a regular search in the hope that our conveyancer sells these valuable and collectable documents there, rather than at a car boot sale! Sadly, because I didn't discover there loss until 7 years had elapsed I think he sold them long, long ago.

Oh and if you want to view anything that Land Registry do hold, it will cost you £10 per document just to view them. To get a photocopy will cost even more. You are charged this £10 per document even if having seen the document it is not the one you want and you need to see the next one in the file. In a file for an old house where documents survive it could easily cost you a thousand pounds just to view the documents relating to your own property!

When I suggested that surely under the Freedom of Information Act I ought to be able to look at the file on our property, Land Registry told me that their procedure meets the requirements of the Act because by charging £10 per document they are making the information "readily available".

I think it's outrageous and much of our country's history will be lost in this way.
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Postby despair » Fri Jul 16, 2010 5:00 pm

marym

I was not aware the fees at www.landregistry.gov.uk had gone up from £4 a house for copies of the deeds

Are you sure that was the website you used

Because there are others that will cheat you
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Postby marym » Sat Jul 17, 2010 12:10 pm

It wasn't actually a website I used, despair. I ordered up the file over the telephone and then visited Land Registry in Lincoln's Inn and viewed it there. The first time I went I got charged £10 per photocopy (by which I mean £10 per sheet of A4, rather than £10 per document), but was not charged to view the file.

When I returned (because I hadn't been able to afford many photocopies and so needed to look at something else), I was charged £10 per document just to look at them.

In both cases a Land Registry official sat across the desk from me. On the first occasion, he handed me the file and let me read through it. On the second occasion, he said he couldn't do that as they now charged £10 per document to let me see them. Until I was handed the document and he had noted down what I "owed" and I agreed to pay it, I wasn't allowed to see the document. And until I saw the document I didn't know if it was the one I wanted or not. Consequently, I still haven't got the information I wanted.

I did manage to establish though that they don't have the original Deeds for the property, but that that these were in the hands of the conveyancer I mentioned in my earlier post.
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Postby marym » Sat Jul 17, 2010 12:12 pm

BTW despair, the fees on the Land Registry website are for the modern computerised title and plans that you can download online. When I last did this it was £3 per document, but that is just a record of the last occasion when the property changed hands or was re-mortgaged. It doesn't contain any historical information or history of ownership, rights of way, etc., which is what I was trying to establish.
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