Land Registry - property update

29 May 2014

Our real estate experts look at new procedures introduced by the Land Registry.

From 30 June 2014 it will no longer be necessary to submit original documents with an application

Key points

  • Land Registry will no longer require sight of original documents from 30 June onwards
  • Any originals received by Land Registry after this time will be destroyed
  • Original documents should therefore be retained and not sent to Land Registry after the change in policy
  • Certified copies of the relevant documents should be sent instead

Current position

At the moment, when a paper (as opposed to electronic) application is sent to Land Registry (for example, to register a change of ownership, or the grant of a new lease), the applicant must send the original conveyancing documents (e.g. the transfer or lease). A certified copy (as defined below) must also be sent if the applicant wishes to get its original documents back at the end of the registration process. Provided this is done, Land Registry will retain the certified copy and return the original.

What's changing?

When processing paper applications received on or after Monday 30 June 2014, the Land Registry will no longer require sight of original documents. Instead of sending both the original document and a certified copy, only the certified copy need be sent.

Importantly, if an applicant does send an original document to Land Registry, it will be destroyed and not returned to the applicant. It is therefore important to ensure that original documents are not sent to the Land Registry once the change in policy applies.

Why is Land Registry changing its rules?

To ensure consistency between applications made online and those made in hard copy. When made online, the conveyancer uploads a scanned copy of the document and gives an electronic certificate to the effect that it is a true copy of the original. Land Registry therefore does not see original documents in connection with online applications.

Are there any exceptions?

Original documents will still be required where land is unregistered and is being registered for the first time.

What is a certified copy?

A certified copy is a photocopy of the original document which has been certified to be a true copy of the original. Details of the certification that the Land Registry will require are on its website (link below). Because the certified copy must be an exact copy of the original, this means for example that any plans in the original document must be photocopied to scale and in colour.

Where can I get more information?

More information is available on the Land Registry website.

Things to consider

If possible, try to avoid sending applications to Land Registry around the time of the changeover. In order to avoid being inadvertently caught out by the new policy, applications should reach Land Registry by Friday 27 June. Otherwise, delays in the postal system could mean that original documents enclosed with an application which was meant to arrive before this time are destroyed.


Helping companies to reduce the risk of fraud against properties they own

Key point

  • A company which owns land can apply, free of charge, for a restriction on the registered title which could help prevent the company from becoming a victim of property fraud

Background

A couple of years ago the Land Registry introduced a mechanism to help combat fraud against residential property which is not owner-occupied (e.g. buy to let, or where the owner is in long term residential care). Private individuals can apply for a restriction against their own title, free of charge, using form RQ.

A restriction is an entry in the register that limits the powers of a registered owner to deal with or dispose of the land. When made via form RQ, the restriction is that no dealing with the property (e.g. a transfer or a mortgage) will be registered unless a solicitor or other professional conveyancer certifies that they have checked the identity of the person who has signed the deed. This could help to prevent a fraudster forging a signature.

Companies

Though form RQ is aimed at individuals, it's now being extended in a six-month trial by Land Registry so that companies can use this service as well. Application is made on form RQ (Co).

The restriction for companies is, again, designed to help safeguard against forgery, particularly to prevent forged signatures. Once registered, a solicitor (or other professional conveyancer) must certify they are satisfied the company transferring or mortgaging the property is the same company as the owner before any new sale, lease or mortgage is registered. They must also certify that they have taken reasonable steps to establish that anyone who executed the deed on behalf of the company held the stated office (i.e. director, secretary or manager) at the time of execution. The full text of the restriction which will appear on the title is:

"No disposition of the registered estate by the proprietor of the registered estate is to be completed by registration without a certificate signed by a conveyancer that the conveyancer is satisfied that (1) the company which executed the document submitted for registration as disponor is the same company as the proprietor, and (2) reasonable steps have been taken to establish that each person who signed as an officer of the company held the stated office at the time of execution."

How much does it cost?

A restriction may be registered free of charge against up to three titles belonging to a company. If it is desired to enter a restriction against more than three titles, form RX1 should be used for the additional titles and normal Land Registry fees will apply.

Who shouldn't apply for one of these restrictions?

Insolvency practitioners may consider applying for one if circumstances warrant it. However, it is important to note that if an insolvency practitioner then executes a deed which is to be lodged at Land Registry, a conveyancer will not be able to give the certificate required by the restriction, and will need to apply for it to be disapplied or withdrawn.

Where a company routinely executes documents by attorney, if the attorney is not also an officer of the company, the restriction could create difficulties. Again, in these circumstances a conveyancer will not be able to give the certificate required by the restriction, and will need to apply for it to be disapplied or withdrawn.

Companies which have one of these restrictions on their titles should be prepared for additional checks, and requests for verification of identity of their officers, when dealing with their land.

How to apply for the restriction

Form RQ (Co) is available from Land Registry's website.

The form can be submitted by email to rq-request@landregistry.gsi.gov.uk. Otherwise, it should be sent in hard copy to Land Registry Wales office.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions can be found on the Land Registry website.

A restriction entered during the trial period will remain on the property after the end of the trial unless application is made to remove it.


NOT LEGAL ADVICE. Information made available on this website in any form is for information purposes only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. You should not rely on, or take or fail to take any action based upon this information. Never disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking legal advice because of something you have read on this website. Gowling WLG professionals will be pleased to discuss resolutions to specific legal concerns you may have.

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