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Help! I've lost the title deeds to my house!

View profile for Rhian Derrick
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You’ve searched the house high and low and still can’t find the title deeds, what can be done? This can be a daunting position to find yourself in, but here at Devonalds we have years of experience dealing with lost or mislaid title deeds.

Solicitor Rhian Derrick who runs the property conveyancing Department at our Pontypridd office outlines how we can offer help and guidance should you or a relative find yourself in this position.

Lost Deeds - What happens next?

The answer to the question will very much depend on whether the title deeds to your property are ‘registered’ or ‘unregistered’ with the Land Registry.

Registered Property

It is estimated that over 84% of land and properties in England and Wales are now registered.

If your property is registered, this means that your deeds have previously been produced to the Land Registry for inspection, more often than not by your solicitor when you purchased the property. The details of your ownership will have been recorded by the Land Registry in their register, under a specific title number.

It is possible to carry out a search at the Land Registry, to locate your property and title number. You can then obtain an up to date Official Copy of your title register and also copies of any documents referred to within the title register for a small fee. If the property is leasehold then the Land Registry will also normally hold a copy of the registered lease and again, a copy can be obtained for a small fee.

An Official Copy of the register is the equivalent of a ‘title deed’ and so it will not matter if you lose this, a further copy can always be obtained from Land Registry, again for a small fee.

Unregistered Property

In a case where a property is ‘unregistered’ with the Land Registry, lost title deeds can be a real problem when it comes to proving that you are the rightful owner

This is because the title deeds to an unregistered property have never been recorded at Land Registry and so the only way to determine ownership is by investigating the title deeds and documents themselves – difficult if they are nowhere to be seen!

This is where our Lost Title Deeds Reconstruction Service can help.

In the vast majority of cases, the title deeds can be pieced back together. On your behalf, we can apply for first registration of your property, even if the title deeds have been lost or destroyed. HM Land Registry has special requirements and procedures for these applications.

What information will I need to provide?

You will need to give an account of the events that have resulted in the loss or destruction of the title deeds, which the Land Registry will then consider on its individual merit.

Your account will need to:

  • Identify the property you are attempting to register, sometimes by reference to a plan
  • Establish who had possession of the deeds and where they were held when they were lost or destroyed
  • Establish why the person in possession had custody of the deeds, eg were they held somewhere for safekeeping?
  • Establish when, where and how the loss or destruction occurred
  • Explain what steps you have taken to recover the deeds, for example have you contacted banks, buildings societies or other institutions that may have been holding the deeds?
  • Confirm whether or not at the time of the loss you had a mortgage on the property.

Any copies of documents relating to the title deeds, or letters from the solicitor who represented you at the time of your purchase will help to support your application, even if the deeds themselves cannot be found.  Letters addressed to you at the property over the years will also help to establish that you have been in possession of the property for a given period of time. For example, this could perhaps be a utility bill or council tax bill.

As the Land Registry consider applications on a case by case basis, it is crucial that the application is prepared by specialists with experience of such matters to ensure that the application has the best possible chance of succeeding.

Here at Devonalds, we have a well-established track record of making applications to Land Registry to reconstruct the title to our clients’ properties. If we can assist you with any aspect of dealing with registered or unregistered land then please get in touch on 01443 404700 for an informal chat to see how we can help.