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Question s of land registration

This week we continue our look at the areas of the syllabus and the units in the IFS study manual that are examined in part (b) of the examination question paper for CeMAP paper three and the Bridge paper. Last week, we considered the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 together with easements and covenants, all of which are covered in unit two of the study manual. Another important topic in this unit is that relating to the registers that must be checked by a conveyancer when purchasing a property. The focus will be on land registration in England and Wales. Whilst land registration principles are similar in Scotland, there are some important differences.

Since 1990 it has been compulsory for all land to be registered upon transfer. At present some land is registered and some is unregistered, although all land should eventually become registered. However, this will take a considerable period of time as some land is rarely, if ever, transferred. By definition, details of unregistered land have not been registered at the Land Registry. Therefore, in order to establish good title a conveyancer must check the title deeds for details of the property and ownership. However, rights over unregistered land are registered in the land charges register. The most common types of land charge registered are class C(1) land charges and class F land charges. Class C (1) charges relate to second and subsequent legal mortgages i.e. those where the lender does not hold the title deeds. These are also known as puisne mortgages. A class F land charge relates to the notification of a spouse&#39s interest in a property under the provisions of the Family Law Act of 1996. Details of easements that are detrimental to the property, e.g. a right of way over the land, are also registered in the land charges register. Easements were dealt with in last week&#39s column.

In the case of registered land, the details of the property will, by definition, have been lodged at the Land Registry. The Land Registry holds three registers in respect of registered land. The property register gives details of the property itself e.g. its title number and a plan of the property as well as information regarding easements that are beneficial to the property. The proprietorship register gives the name and address of the property and the nature of the estate, e.g. freehold or leasehold. This register also sets out the class of title – absolute, good leasehold, possessory or qualified. The charges register records any charges over the property such as the rights of second and subsequent mortgagees (puisne mortgages) and spouses&#39 interests notified under the provisions of the Family Law Act of 1996. Consequently, it can be seen that the charges register holds details of charges over registered land, whilst the land charges register holds details of charges over unregistered land. Details of the property and proprietorship in respect of registered land are held in the property and proprietorship registers. In the case of unregistered land, these details are contained in the title deeds.

The local land charges register will also need to be checked when purchasing either registered or unregistered land. The local land charges register contains details of local planning matters such as planning applications and cautions regarding possible road-widening schemes etc. Checking details in the local land charges register is commonly referred to as carrying out a local search.

Moving on to the contract for sale of a property, this will state whether the vendor is selling with full title guarantee, limited title guarantee or with no guarantee. Title guarantees indicate the robustness of the title being conveyed. Irrespective of whether a property is transferred with full or limited title, the vendor is deemed to covenant that he has the right to sell and that he will do all that can be done to give the purchaser the title they require. In addition, a full title guarantee also warrants that the vendor is selling the property free from any charges and encumbrances and free from any rights exercisable by third parties, other than those which he could not reasonably be expected to know of.

Next week&#39s column will conclude this look at the key topics covered in part (b) of the question paper for CeMAP paper three and the Bridge paper by considering the legal status of a mortgage offer and a mortgage deed, the contents of these documents and some common misunderstandings.

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