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Can I Sell My House Without The Deeds?

Property Saviour » Land Registry » Can I Sell My House Without The Deeds?

It can be worrying if you want to sell a property but can’t find the deeds. However, even without the deeds, you can still proceed with your sale. You just need to prove that you are the owner of the property in another way.

Although deeds are a collection of documents that usually prove ownership, you can still prove it without them. The most straightforward option is to check if the property is registered with the Land Register.

If it is, they will have copies of all the necessary documents and can provide you with the required paperwork.

Registering a property has been a requirement since 1990, so if the house was sold within the last 30 years, that should go smoothly.

Table of Contents

What are property deeds?

Before understanding how to sell a house without deeds, you must be aware of what property deeds are and why they are essential. Property deeds refer to the legal documents that trace the ownership history of land and property.

These documents generally include mortgages, transfers of ownership, contracts of sale, wills, leases, and details of covenants. HM Land Registry stores the title deeds in a digital form, so they do not hold physical copies.

It is also wise to keep other documents that may be significant when selling a property. These could include listed building consent, planning permission, and new build guarantees. These documents may not be legally part of the deeds, but they could still be important.

Do I need to keep a copy of my property’s deeds?

No, technically not. However, it is much simpler if your conveyancer can access the deeds for the property. This does not require the physical deed though.

If the property is registered with HM Land Registry, they will have the deeds and can provide them in digital form. If you do not possess the deeds, it is sometimes possible to request them from the Solicitor or mortgage lender who handled your original home purchase.

Can I Sell My House Without The Deeds
Property deeds refer to the legal documents that trace the ownership history of land and property.

What can I do if the deeds cannot be found?

It is possible to sell a house without the deeds. If the property is not registered with HM Land Registry, the next step is to register it.

The Land Registry’s Rule 27 of the Land Registration Rules 2003 states that applications for first registration of land can be made when the title deeds have been lost or destroyed.

Their guide outlines the special requirements and procedures for these applications. An experienced property law solicitor can help with this process.

Are there different types of Title Deeds?

Yes. There are two kinds of title deeds: possessory title (sometimes referred to as qualified title) and title absolute. The possessory title is often given when the original deeds have been lost and it is impossible to prove absolute title.

What is the HM Land Registry?

The HM Land Registry safeguards land and property ownership in England and Wales – not Scotland. They rarely keep the original deed and instead scan registered properties and return them to the solicitor or person who requested the registration.

How much does it cost to get a copy of the Title Deeds
The Land Registry wants a full and factual report of the events leading to the loss or destruction of the deeds, and other matters relevant to the title.

Where Can I Apply for First Registration of My Property Without Deeds?

When selling a property without title deeds, it is important to be aware that each first registration which involves lost or destroyed deeds will be assessed on an individual basis. Each case will be looked at separately.

To apply for first registration, two forms must be filled out (FR1 and DL) and a fee must be paid. You may also need to provide statutory declarations, statements of truth, and certificates (from yourself as the property owner, as well as conveyancers and lenders).

The Land Registry wants a full and factual report of the events leading to the loss or destruction of the deeds, and other matters relevant to the title. The person with the best knowledge of the matter should give the account.

Who was the last person to possess the deeds? Where were the deeds held when they were lost or destroyed? What was the reason for them holding the deeds? When, where, and how did the loss or destruction of the deeds occur? What steps have been taken to try and recover the deeds?

How much does it cost to get a copy of the Title Deeds?

The great news is that you can get a copy of your title plan or title register online for only £3. These copies are only for informational purposes, though. If you need the deeds for legal purposes, you’ll need to submit an OC1 form to get HM Land Registry Official Copies, which cost £7 each.

Am I able to remove my mortgage lender from My Title Deeds?

If you have completely paid off your mortgage, your lender will notify the Land Registry. If you are still making payments on your mortgage, you can apply to have them removed by completing Form AP1.

Am I able to remove my mortgage lender from My Title Deeds
You'll need to find a good solicitor and conveyancer who can handle the first registration process.

What happens if the Land Registry are not satisfied with the explanation given?

In this case, the Land Registry may only provide a ‘possessory title’. Possessory title indicates that the individual initially registering the property did not have enough evidence to receive absolute title.

Although this does not prevent you from selling a house without deeds, it can make the process more difficult since the buyer will need to do due diligence to make sure the ownership of the property is valid.

This could also reduce the property’s market value. For this reason, it is important to provide sufficient details regarding the lack of deeds to obtain absolute title.

Exploring Alternative Methods of Proving Ownership

If your property isn’t registered with the Land Register, it’s more complicated, but not necessarily a lost cause. Your first step should be to find another copy of the deeds.

This could be with the original mortgage provider, the solicitors, or the conveyancer used in the last sale.  All of these may have copies of the deeds.

Once all possible locations for copies of the deeds have been checked and they still have not been found, registering them with the Land Registry may be necessary. This process requires a lot of evidence and can be done by following these steps:

  • You’ll need to find a good solicitor and conveyancer who can handle the first registration process.
  • To register the property, you’ll need evidence that the deeds have been lost or destroyed and that you have done everything possible to locate them.
  • To get this evidence, put together a comprehensive collection of documents, including mortgage payment records, utility bills, electoral records, insurance, and estate agent records.

Once you have gathered all the required evidence, you can submit an ST3 form along with a statement of truth to the Land Registry.

Lost Deeds & No Land Registry record

The deeds have gone missing, and after contacting the HM Land Registry, you found out the property isn’t registered in your name. What can be done?

Essentially, you’ll need to locate the missing deeds, and there are a few steps you should consider taking. If you have a mortgage on the property, you can get your conveyancer to write to the lender to receive the deed pack.

However, you will need to provide them with your details and mortgage account number.

If you’ve already had a house repayment that has been repaid, you may still be able to retrieve the details from the house repayment company as some lenders keep title deeds.

It’s quite common for the title deeds to be included in the owner’s will. Reach out to anyone who may have access to the will documents, such as a local law firm or accountant.

Search everywhere for the title deeds. They should have been included in the bundle of documents when the house was initially purchased. See if you can find any of these in the property itself.

Do You Need The Deeds To Sell A House
Selling a house without title deeds is by no means a straightforward process.

Do You Need The Deeds To Sell A House?

To sell your property, you need either the original deeds or proof that they’ve been digitally registered in your name with the HM Land Registry.

Things can get more complex if you’re selling an unregistered property, particularly if it is not your own but rather someone else’s, such as a family member. Selling a house without title deeds is by no means a straightforward process.

Applying to the Land Registry for the first registration of title where you do not have access to the deeds needs the involvement of an experienced property law Solicitor who can ensure that enough evidence and information is provided to meet their requirements.  

That said, with a well-prepared and backed-up application, it is perfectly possible to gain full absolute title in this situation, enabling you to sell your property without the complications associated with missing deeds.

How can we help?

We’re here to help with any questions you may have about selling your property and what documentation you need to provide.

If you’re looking to sell quickly, we’ll offer you a reasonable price and a completion date to suit you. Contact Property Saviour now to learn more.

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