When customers ask “How do I find the Deeds to my house?”, they usually mean either:
- How do I prove I own my house? or
- Where are the deeds that show restrictive covenants, rights of way, easements, leasehold terms etc?
The documents required will depend on which question is being asked.
How do I prove ownership of my house?
If your property is registered with the Land Registry (most properties which have been sold or transferred at any point in time after 1990 usually are), your ownership documents will be the Title Register & Title Plan . We refer to these as the ‘Title Deeds‘, because these are the documents that show who has title to the land in question. Official Copies of these documents are the only documents that are generally accepted as irrefutable proof of ownership.
The Title Register shows key property and ownership details as well as listing any mortgages. The basic information contained in all title registers is as follows:
- Whether the property is freehold or leasehold.
- Whether the title is absolute, possessor or qualified.
- Whether the Land Registry holds any deeds that show restrictive covenants, rights of way, easements.
- Whether the property is subject to any leases.
The Title Plan shows the location of the registered property and the general boundaries of ownership. It may also show areas marked with various colours to denote things such as rights of way or restrictive covenants. Any such colours will be explained in the Title Register and not on the Title Plan itself, so it is important to read both documents together.
Where are the deeds that show restrictive covenants, rights of way, easements, obligations etc?
These are the documents that we refer to as ‘Filed Deeds/Documents‘, because they are referred to on the Title Register as “copy filed” or “original filed”. Filed Deeds are the ancillary documents which contain legal provisions (for example, restrictive covenants or rights of way) that are imposed on the property and which are too lengthy to be copied out into the Title Register.
Filed Deeds may be conveyances, transfers, easements, charges, agreements, leases, wayleaves or any other type of legal agreement document which is binding on the property.
Filed Deeds are helpful because they can often solve property disputes over issues such as rights to park, access over shared passageways, boundary maintenance responsibilities, the ability to extend or develop a property and other such matters.
If your property is not registered with the Land Registry, it is referred to as ‘unregistered’. There is no central repository for unregistered property deeds. The deeds are held privately, meaning the owner. their solicitor or mortgage company should be in possession of the deeds.
Finding the owner of unregistered land is notoriously difficult because no records exist in any central database. It require some ‘on the ground’ detective work such as:
- ask neighbours or adjoining landowners if they know who the owner(s) might be;
- ask local residents if they have any ideas about who might own it, as they may have lived in the area for a number of years and have ‘local knowledge’;
- ask in the local pub, post office or shop;
- check with the local authority to see if any planning applications have been submitted over the years. By law, applicants currently have to sign either a Certificate A to say they are the owner or Certificate B where they say they have served notice on the owner who they have to name; and
- check your local electoral register.
There is no specific route to (or guarantee of) success in these cases – one just needs to do whatever they can.