What are property title deeds?

If you’re a first time buyer or someone that hasn’t reached the completion stage of a property sale, you may have never had title deeds. However, you will have probably heard of it. This is because they are a collection of documentation integral to the conveyancing process.  

In this blog, we’ll break down everything you need to know about title deeds for residential property. Including what they are, their function, and how to view them. 


The function of HM Land Registry 

Created in 1862, His Majesty’s Land Registry is a non-ministerial government department dedicated to recording the ownership of land and property in England and Wales. As such, buyers, sellers and anyone taking out a mortgage must apply to the Land Registry. This includes when: 

  • A new owner is being registered. 
  • Unregistered land or property is being registered. 
  • An interest, such as a mortgage or lease, has been declared in a registered property or piece of land. 

The organisation is responsible for providing an accurate record of information relating to property ownership, or interests that could affect land and property. Much of this information is contained in title deeds, which are kept by the Land Registry. 


Title deeds for property explained 

Title deeds are a series of paper documents that provide evidence of a property’s history of ownership. This can include a variety of paperwork, including: 

  • Conveyances 
  • Mortgages 
  • Contracts of sale 
  • Wills 
  • Leases 
  • Covenants 

Property deeds have the potential to go back decades, depending on the last time the property changed hands. Along with ownership, it contains information relating to property boundaries, access considerations, and whether the property is freehold or leasehold. For conveyancers, looking at title deeds will help inform the legal support provided in standard purchase services. 


Do I need title deeds? 

One of the common instances where title deeds are required is when someone is interested in buying or selling a property. This is to support the property transaction process and check whether any information needs to be updated. A conveyancer will often request to see a copy of the property title deeds early on in the process.  

Of course, title deeds are frequently referenced when there is a dispute over property or land ownership. This allows these issues to be resolved quickly and definitively. As mentioned earlier, property deeds also contain other information that can be useful later into the ownership of the property, such as boundaries. 

In the case when a property owner has passed away, title deeds are important in deciding what happens to the property. This is because the deeds can contain the will of the current owner. 

Where to find property title deeds 

Where title deeds used to be physical documents, nowadays the Land Registry stores property title deeds as digital records. It became mandatory for residential property to be registered in 1990. Therefore, any property that has been sold after this time will have digitised title deeds. 

They are typically scanned by the Registry, with the physical copies being returned to who lodged them. This could be a legal professional that acted on behalf of someone in the past. So, if you want the original deeds, your solicitor will have to contact this party. Nevertheless, you can ask the Land Registry to send you a copy of the scanned title deeds. 


Professional property conveyancing Whitley Bay 

In summary, title deeds are important for anyone looking to buy a residential property. Although they are much easier to access today thanks to the existence of digital records. As conveyancers aiming to support you with your property transactions, Toomey Legal always check the title deeds as part of our conveyancing services. This allows us to make changes to the copy held by HM Land Registry, thereby ensuring you’re covered legally. Contact us today.