Full width project banner image

Understanding Property Deeds: Their Importance and How to Keep Them Safe

Jul 03, 2024

Share this article

When you purchase a property, there's crucial paperwork that establishes your ownership. Among these documents are your title or property deeds, mandated since 1990 for properties in England and Wales. This guide clarifies what property deeds are, their significance, and best practices for safekeeping.

What Are Property Deeds?

Property deeds are legal documents that officially record property ownership and any associated land. They are securely stored by HM Land Registry, it's necessary to register your property with them whether you've bought it, inherited it, received it as a gift, exchanged it for other property or land, or taken out a mortgage.

Upon initial registration with the Land Registry, a scanned copy of the original title deeds is retained and returned to the submitting party, typically a solicitor or conveyancer.

Regional Variations in the UK

HM Land Registry exclusively manages land and property records in England and Wales. Residents of Scotland or Northern Ireland should refer to their respective land registers for property transactions.

What Do Property Deeds Look Like?

Property deeds aren't typically physical documents unless they are the original copies. Instead, they are maintained electronically and updated with each change of ownership, akin to an ongoing ownership log.

Unless your property has never been registered before, it's unlikely you possess the original deeds. You can verify registration status by searching the Land Registry.

Upon property purchase, your solicitor should furnish you with a copy of the 'registered title,' ideally within a month of completion, although delays may occur.

Land Registry Fees

Land Registry fees vary based on transaction type, such as first registrations versus transfers of property shares. Your solicitor will provide detailed fee information specific to your property. For complete fee schedules, visit gov.uk.

Do You Need Deeds to Sell Your House?

If your property is registered with the Land Registry, original deeds are unnecessary to confirm ownership and complete a sale. The Land Registry maintains the official record of ownership for land and property in England and Wales, providing all necessary information for property transactions.

However, retaining a copy of your deeds is advisable, as they can offer additional insights into legal boundaries and history.

Safekeeping Your Property Deeds

Since copies of property deeds are stored digitally by HM Land Registry, it's improbable they'll be misplaced. Nonetheless, if your property isn't registered, safeguarding the original deeds is crucial, as the responsibility lies with the seller to produce them.

Keep your own copy of property deeds along with other essential documents at home. Ensure they are stored securely in a folder or filing cabinet to maintain their safety and organization.

What If You Lose Your Property Deeds?

With digital registration at HM Land Registry, the likelihood of losing property deeds is minimal. However, for unregistered properties, preserving the original deeds is essential. If you can't locate proof of ownership, contact the solicitor who handled your property transaction to submit a deeds request form to HM Land Registry. A nominal fee is applicable for this service.

If the original deeds cannot be found, you must provide alternative evidence of ownership status.

Considering a Property Purchase?

At Howards, our commitment is to facilitate your move smoothly. Our Buying Process guide outlines the steps, responsibilities, and tips to streamline your experience.