When is the buyer or seller legally bound to complete the transaction?
Historically, the Deeds pertaining to your property may have been vast, and encompassed within a large bundle of old documents.
Whilst this is still the case for some, physical historical papers are becoming less and less frequent. Upon registration of a property’s title, the Land Registry account for all matters affecting the property, inclusive of the registered owner, any rights and restrictions affecting the property, any registered charges or notices that are to be entered, and the value of the property, within one simple document, called the Official Copy of the Register of Title. At this point, they often discard and destroy the paper deeds, as all matters are now held electronically, on HM Land Registry’s database.
When completing the registration formalities on behalf of our clients, it is not uncommon for there to be no title deeds at all, other than the paper Register. If this is the case, you should not be alarmed, as the Register includes all relevant data about the property, and can save you some storage space that may have been filled with rusty old deeds!
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Do I need to keep my property Deeds?
When selling a property, your conveyancing solicitor will ask you for any deeds and documents that you hold pertaining to your property. Such documents will be required to draft the Contract pack and supporting documents, which the buyer’s solicitor will then review and report to the buyer on.
Any deeds and documents referred to within the property’s Title are important as they can reveal important information about the property, which the buyer ought to be aware of. For example, there may be a Conveyance referred to which sets out rights and restrictions the property is subject to. Obviously, the buyer needs to see a copy of such deed to be apprised of what the same consists of before proceeding with the purchase.
In properties with unregistered title, these deeds are essential as they are likely to be the only record of information about the property. As pointed out, these documents are required to draft the Contract and relating documents forming the Contract pack.
Firstly, your solicitor would obtain Official Copy Entries from the Land Registry, which are a record of all the information that they hold about the property. This includes details of the property itself, the registered proprietors and any charges or restrictions affecting the property. The record will refer to certain documents that will give further information on any matters affecting the property.
As part of the Contract pack, your conveyancer is required to send copies of the documents referred to within the Register, in order that the buyer is aware of all items affecting the property. These documents can, usually, be obtained via the Land Registry portal for a fee of £3.00, per document.
It may, however, be the case that the particular document has been dematerialised, which is quite common with older documents. This means that a copy may not be available at the Land Registry for download. This is, therefore, where your help would come in, as this document may be hiding within the deeds you hold in your possession. Hopefully, you will have your deeds stored in a safe place, or, for most, in a box in a cupboard that has been forgotten about. If you can't remember the safe place, read our guide on lost property deeds.
In some cases, the deeds are held by the mortgage lender whom acted at the time of purchasing the property. Similarly, they may be held by the solicitor’s practice who acted at the time of purchase. If this is the case, you can provide your conveyancing solicitor with a form of authority allowing them apply to the lender/previous solicitor for the deeds to be forwarded accordingly.
If this is not the case, and the particular deed or document cannot be located, the solicitor acting on behalf of the buyer may ask for an indemnity policy to cover against this. This is called a ‘Missing Information/Title Deeds insurance’ policy. Dependent on the value of the property, the fee for such policy can vary, however, it is usually around £90.00, and would normally be paid for by the seller.
Want to avoid paying out an extra £90.00 (or maybe more!)? The moral of the story is to keep your title deeds stored in a safe place (a safe place that you can remember), which would be easily accessible in the event that you ever wished to sell your property.
Buying or selling a property yourself? Contact MG Legal and our nearest solicitors would be delighted to assist you by providing a fixed fee quote for our services, as well as any required advice on the same. Call us today on 01995 602 129.