The rights to unregistered property can be registered with the Land Registry, and the most common way to do this is by way of a Deed of Assignment. The other option is to have an unregistered property registered as an easement.
The difference between the two is that with an easement, you will have the right to enjoy the property based on the original ownership. However, with a Deed of Assignment, you will assign the property ownership to a different person.
Today, let's explore some important things to consider when purchasing an unregistered property. Here's what you need to know:
Without clear boundaries, the property may include land that belongs to other people. The new owner may have to pay someone else to gain access and use of the land.
There may be areas of the property that are buried underground, which could lead to issues with sewage, drainage, or even broken pipes. The size does not determine the value of the property. An unregistered property with a large surrounding area could be worth less than one with a small yard.
If there is a dispute about who owns the property, the owner may not be able to do anything at all to the property. If someone wants to collect rent or sell the property, they will be stopped from doing so by the dispute.
The owner of an unregistered property would have to prove the original ownership. If the ownership cannot be proven, the owner will lose out on all the rights to the property. It could be challenging to sell an unregistered property if there is an owner or another person with an interest in it. The potential buyer would also have to purchase everything else with the property.
Adverse Possession or Squatter’s Rights
If squatters move onto the property, it can be challenging to remove them. They can eventually gain ownership of the property if they live on it for a certain period of time.
There are limits to the time squatters can live on the property before gaining ownership. If settlers have been living on the property for more than seven years, they can gain ownership of the property. They cannot claim ownership if they have been on it for less than seven years.
Lost Title Deeds
If the title deeds are lost, the owner will not be able to prove the original ownership of the property. If the title deeds are found, it is unlikely that the state will allow the property to be sold.
A land registry check will reveal if the title deeds are missing. It is possible that the title deeds may still be missing and lying on the grounds of the property. There could be a chance of finding the missing title deeds if you can find a copy.
Unregistered title deeds are also vulnerable to destruction. If a fire or natural disaster destroys the title deeds, the owner cannot prove they owned the property.
Properties Passing to the Crown
The property may pass to the Crown if the original owner dies without leaving a will. This will happen if the same family has owned the property for more than 100 years. This is why it is essential to make a will if you own an unregistered property. You will pass all of your assets to the Crown if you die without a will.
You may be able to avoid the property being transferred to the Crown by asking someone to take possession of the property on your behalf. By having someone take possession of the property, you would transfer a legal interest in it to them.
Additional Costs When Buying Unregistered Property
As well as the above points about an unregistered property, additional costs come with purchasing a property that is not registered. You will have to pay for legal costs and taxes. You will need to pay a stamp duty fee if you purchase the property through a local land registry office.
You will also have to pay for the additional expenses of moving furniture and any other belongings into the property. Bringing the property up to legal standards or substantial improvements to the property can also be costly.
How to Buy Unregistered Property
Buying unregistered property is complex and you will likely have to seek legal advice. You and the seller will need to be clear on the ownership of the property, what the property includes and who has any rights to it.
You can then determine if it is possible to purchase the unregistered property and how you can go about it. The property should be valued to ensure that you and the seller can agree on a price.
The seller may need to be given time to prepare the title deeds or find the title deeds if they have been lost. If the seller is a government agency, you may need to find information about the property and its ownership.
You will also need to apply for planning permission and listed building consent for any changes to the property. Overall, you should take your time to consider all of the points and costs of buying unregistered property. The more you know, the better decision you will be able to make.
Hire a Conveyancer
If you are purchasing a property that is not registered, it is best to hire a conveyancer to ensure that everything is in order upon purchase. Contact a conveyancer such as Moore & Smith Solicitors to guide you through the process.
A conveyancer can advise you and the seller on how to move the property through the legal system. There may be a lot of paperwork involved, and you need someone to keep the process moving and ensure that the title deeds are in order.
The conveyancer can also help you with the legal details of the unregistered property. If the property has been privately owned for many generations, the legal details have likely been in the hands of the family.
The Bottom Line
Unregistered properties are a lot of work, and the problems may not stop there. There may be issues with the property that you are not aware of. Whether buying or selling the property, you will have to deal with many red tapes to get the work done.
It is worth considering whether or not an unregistered property is worth the work. If the property is valuable, it may be worth the hassle. If the property is not valuable, there may not be a good reason to buy or sell it.
It is also essential to keep good records about the property to ensure that you have proof of ownership. If the property is not registered, it may be challenging to prove that it was yours in the first place.
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