As anyone who is trying to sell a house is aware, there is a lot of paperwork. And we mean a lot! One of these small, thin sheets is critical: your house deed. What is it? What does it mean? How do you register your house? Do you need the deed when you are selling?
Let’s get you some answers.
What Is a House Deed?
A deed is a formal, legal document; it records the ownership of a house/property with HM Land Registry. It gives you the proof you need to assert and attest that your house is indeed your house.
When do you register your house and any accompanying land with HM Land Registry? You must do so for the first time if it is unregistered at the time, you mortgage it or take ownership (for example, if you inherited an unregistered home, you must register it when you take possession).
What happens if you bought a house and it is already registered? In this case, register the property and complete the ‘transfer or whole of registered title’ form. More on this process in a moment.
When you register your property for the first time, the Land Registry scans a copy of the original title deed and then returns them to the person or party who submitted it. This is likely your solicitor or conveyancer. In turn, they will provide you with a copy of the registered title. This usually takes about a month after completion, give or take.
A copy of the house deed is stored electronically with the Land Registry. Every time a new person buys the property, the record is updated.
What if you are not sure if your property has been registered? You may not hold the original deed. To find out, you can search the register to find out.
How to Register Your Property for the First Time
Start with that search of the registry to check your house is not already registered. Next:
- Search against all previous owners since 1925 by applying for a search from the Land Charges Department.
- Fill out an application for first registration.
- If it is not shown in the deeds, create a scale plan that shows the property’s outline.
- Determine what forms you need and fill out two copies on the list of documents.
- Locate the right registry fee. The fee depends on the value of your home.
- Send your documents, forms and fees to the Land Registry.
If you have purchased the property, complete all of these steps and fill out the ‘transfer or whole of registered title.’ If you have inherited the property, complete all of the steps outlined above as well as either the ‘whole of registered title assent’ form (the executor of the will must fill this out if the property was owned and registered solely in the name of the decedent) OR the ‘transfer of whole registered title’ form (if there is a surviving owner, they need to fill this form out).
As you go through this process, gather documents you may need, including proof of identification, disclosable interest forms, Land Transaction Return certificate and a certified copy of your lease if applying to register a leasehold).
If you have any questions, please consult the Land Registry’s website via UK.gov.
Do You Need Your House Deed to Sell?
No, not if it is registered with the Land Registry. They will provide the requisite information needed to complete your sale. At the same time, however, it’s a good idea to have a copy of your deed as it can be useful if, for example, there are some issues around legal boundaries.
Simply keep the deed wherever you keep your important paperwork. If you should lose it, you can always send away for another copy. That’s a huge benefit of electronic documentation!
Why Register Your House?
The simple answer is, ‘Because you are required to’! But so-called voluntary registering is a great idea. It helps you:
- Prove you are the rightful, legal owner of the property.
- Protect your property from fraud.
- Streamline the process of selling, gifting or changing your property in the future.
Your house deed is an important piece of paper. Follow the tips in this article, and you’ll be able to register with maximum ease.