Approximately 15% of land in England and Wales is unregistered. This is particularly prevalent with farmland which has remained in the same ownership for decades. Whilst it became compulsory in the 1990s to register your land after most dispositions, such as a sale or transfer, this often does not get triggered where rural farms stay in the family. However, there are risks to leaving your farmland unregistered.
Here are some of the key risks which you can avoid by registering your farmland now:
- Losing knowledge: Sadly, nothing is certain but death and taxes (and first registrations!). When the elder members of the family pass away, often they leave behind little documented evidence about any sales or swaps of part of the land between neighbours, changes to accessways, or other 'handshake' deals. It is best to be prepared before retirement from the family farm to save future generations any extra hassle, stress or legal costs to resolve issues. You may leave them with questions which cannot be answered.
- Risk of rival claims of ownership or fraud: When preparing your application for registration, your solicitor will be able to check the Land Registry database and see if any parts of your land are registered in different ownership. Once the land is registered, the Land Registry notifies you of any application for adverse possession. It is less likely that any claim will succeed as you will be able to object and remove the squatter.
- Reduce future costs: When applying for a new mortgage over the land, it is usually cheaper and quicker if the land is registered. This is because it is more efficient for both the solicitors and the surveyor as they can rely on the official Title and do not need to examine various historical documents. Additionally, once the land is registered at the Land Registry, you can download your own copy of the Title in a matter of minutes, rather than spending time and money asking your Solicitor to review your Deeds.
Contact our commercial property team today for a discussion of your needs and next steps for registering your land.