Registration of land under the Land Registration Act affords property owners some protection against squatters as well as avoiding the need to produce old documents each time a property changes hands. According to HM Land Registry: . All title information is kept on HM Land Registry's database, reducing the need to store old and often unclear deeds. The register can be viewed quickly and securely online. There is no better way to safeguard ownership of land and property than by registering your title with us.
State-backed registration gives you greater security of title, providing you with better protection against claims of adverse possession. Registering a title provides a "Title Plan" which is normally not definitive, but which identifies the land within the title on the Ordnance Survey map. It is important that the original title deeds are retained as they will provide a starting point if ever it is necessary to identify the precise position of the boundaries. In addition to being the government body that registers the ownership of land and property in England and Wales, HM Land Registry is also a useful tool for property investors who use the online price calculator to query the latest monthly residential property prices.
The government is also using the land registry data to assess property values for tax purposes. In , as a result of a review of office accommodation, HM Land Registry announced the closure of several offices.
A further review of staffing levels and overall office space began in The economic recession and lower volumes of property sales and mortgages meant that HM Land Registry's basic work in connection with remortgages and house sales reduced to the point where it made a financial loss for the first time in many years. As a result of consultation, the plans to close the Croydon and Peterborough offices were not carried out, but the closure of the other three went ahead, although until a small office remained at Portsmouth as a sub-office of Croydon.
Each local office has an Area Manager sometimes shared between offices , a Local Land Registrar also sometimes shared between offices who is the senior lawyer, an Operations Manager, and an Integrity Manager. Each office also has staff responsible for processing applications lodged by members of the legal profession and the public. Traditionally customers send applications to the office that deals with applications for the geographical area where the property is located, but since many customers now deal with dedicated customer teams, who deal with all their applications from certain customers regardless of where the property is located.
The Executive Board delivers the annual business plan and is responsible for day-to-day management. Since December , the Land Register has been open to the public.
For a fee, anyone can inspect the Register, find out the name and address of the current owner of any registered property or obtain a copy of any registered title. This can also be done online. Under previous legislation this function had been the responsibility of the Chief Land Registrar. From July , the functions of the Adjudicator have been transferred to the Land Registration division of the Property Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal.
In the Royal Commission on Registration of Title proposed a system of registration administered by a central registry in London with district offices.
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The Act provided for the registration of freehold and long leasehold estates in land. The system of registration adopted had some differences to that piloted in South Australia by that colony's then Premier Sir Robert Torrens , although both were founded on the report. At first, registration was not compulsory, and once property was registered there was no compulsion to register any subsequent transactions. Thus it was possible for the person registered as the owner of a property to cease to be the owner while remaining on the register.
Serious flaws in the Act led to the Land Transfer Act , which forms the basis of the system used today.
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However, the LTA did not make registration compulsory. A report by Sir Charles Brickdale on the system of land registration used in Germany proved influential. In the then Lord Chancellor, Hardinge Giffard, 1st Earl of Halsbury introduced the Land Transfer Act , which brought an element of compulsion into the registration system. To satisfy the demands of the legal profession, the option of a county veto was offered. London County Council was attracted to the idea of compulsory registration and voted in favour of it.
It was introduced in stages between and and this led to the expansion of HM Land Registry. Also at this time, the first female staff were employed and typewriters were introduced. A proposal to extend compulsory registration to Northamptonshire in was lost in committee. Two significant pieces of land legislation were enacted in the Law of Property Act and the Land Registration Act.
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Government-initiated extensions to compulsory registration were suspended for ten years, but Eastbourne and Hastings voluntarily became areas of compulsory registration. After the ten years were up, compulsory registration was extended to Middlesex and the County Borough of Croydon Plans to extend it to Surrey in were abandoned due to the Second World War.
In the government forecast that the whole of England and Wales would be subject to compulsory registration by , but the process took much longer. In , after damage sustained in the rd air raid on Central London, HM Land Registry was evacuated to the Marsham Court Hotel in Bournemouth so that it could carry on its normal business. In , eighty-eight years after its creation, HM Land Registry registered its one millionth title.
The growth in property ownership after the war years meant that the potential number of properties to be registered increased dramatically.
This, in turn, slowed down the rate of land registration. To deal with the increasing workload, an office was opened in Tunbridge Wells in and a further office at Lytham St. Annes in In , years after the registry started, it registered its two millionth title. Theodore Ruoff, who was appointed Chief Land Registrar in , laid down the three fundamental principles of Land Registration:. Land registers at this time [ when?
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Copies of everything produced had to be made by hand. HM Land Registry retained the originals, and the copies were sewn, using needle and thread, into large certificates. The certificates were produced as indisputable evidence of the ownership of the land. Such was the importance of the certificates that tampering with them was a criminal offence. Although the certificates still bore the same importance, computerisation dramatically increased the efficiency of the Land Register at a time when HM Land Registry was keen to bring the whole of England and Wales under compulsory registration.
In the provision of compulsory registration was brought to the whole of England and Wales, the ten millionth title was registered, and for the first time, the Land Register was opened to public inspection. Although compulsory registration had now spread to the whole of its jurisdiction, compulsion only occurred when a property was sold.
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Related The Grants Register 1989–1991
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