Everything You Need to Know About Land Registry Searches
When you buy a property and appoint a solicitor their main task is to carry out the conveyancing process on your behalf, which involves organising a number of mandatory searches, namely:
- Land registry search
- Local authority search
- Environmental search
- Water authority / drainage and water search
If you’re using a mortgage to buy the property, these searches are necessary to clarify that there are no issues you or your lender need to be aware of that could affect its future value before the loan is approved and you take ownership.
The purpose of a land registry search is to verify that the seller is the legal owner of the property you’re looking to buy. Without this confirmation the lender won’t be able to complete your mortgage application.
What exactly does a Land Registry search look for?
When they conduct a land registry search, your solicitor will look to check the details of two documents:
- Title register
- Title plan
If the property you’re looking to buy is in either England or Wales they can order these documents through HM Land Registry. If it’s in Scotland, they need to use Registers of Scotland and for Northern Ireland, Land and Property Services (LPS). The cost for each document is £7 for a hard copy and £3 for an online version.
Whilst online versions provide the same information, only hard copies can be used as actual proof of ownership and will be the ones your solicitor will order. Once they’ve been ordered the copies usually take around a week to arrive.
The title register will be able to clarify the following information:
Title number of the property
Name of the current owner(s) and the price they paid for it
Any mortgage debt owed on it or whether this has been discharged
Rights of way on the property
The title plan is a map which shows the property’s location and any general boundaries. It can’t confirm the exact boundaries, so, for example, it won’t confirm who ultimately owns (is responsible for) any hedge, wall or fence between two properties.
The land registry may also hold information on previous owners. If this information is important, you can ask for a search of all owners of the property from a specific date onwards.
Once the sale has been completed, your solicitor will update the relevant land registry, depending on which part of the U.K the property’s located, with you as the current owner and the price you paid for it.
What about new properties with no previous owners?
If the property you’re looking to buy is brand new your solicitor will be able to process an application for first registration on your behalf and prepare all the relevant documentation required. There is a fee for this, based on the value of the property, usually starting from £40.