Updated: Apr 25, 2022
The compulsory registration of land became a requirement under the Land Registration Act 1925, and later the Land Registration Act back in 2002. The Land registry reported that more than 80% of land in England and Wales is now registered.
Under this law 'land' is defined as both land and buildings.
Spot the difference?
Un registered Land:
Un registered land will likely be a building, land or both and although legally owned has not been bought, sold or had any other transactions since the compulsory registration date. Any transactions from this date would have triggered a compulsory first registration of the un registered land.
The legal owner should have documents referred to as Title Deeds. These show the pathway as to how the land came to belong to them. To register the land an application can be made to Land Registry with these title deeds.
Unclaimed land can either be registered or not and can arise in a couple of circumstances. These include land that has fallen out of use and has been abandoned. Land where there is confusion over the true ownership. This can occur when both the actual owner and neighboring land owners do not know.
In these scenarios it is possible to acquire land as your own by adverse possession. Regardless of whether the land is registered or un registered.
How do you know whether land is un registered or unclaimed?
Unregistered land: The Land Registry offer a service which can be used to check and confirm whether land is registered. The cost of this service is a nominal fee starting from £3.00 per request.
Unclaimed Land: This process is more tricky and the following items are all indicators that land may be unclaimed. However, they do not necessarily guarantee that the land is unclaimed or abandoned.
Things to look out for include if the property is in poor condition or in need of serious repair with boarded up windows and doors.
Gardens that are overgrown, unkempt or even used for tipping rubbish.
The property has been empty for a long period of time and the neighbors are unaware of anyone living their.
The Registration process...
How to register un registered land?
If you have Title Deeds the jigsaw pieces can be stitched together to show how you became the owner of the land. In most cases you need to demonstrate a chain of ownership for at least 15 years. This can either be your ownership showing a consecutive period of 15 years. Alternatively an un broken link of ownership between you and the previous owners.
An application can then be submitted to Land Registry for the land to be registered officially in your name.
How to claim possession of unclaimed land?
Claiming unclaimed land is more of a tricky process and is defined as claiming adverse possession. In order to claim adverse possession you need to have:
'Factual' or exclusive possession of the land for example fencing the section of land off as you you own.
Demonstrating 'intention to possess' the land shown by a combination of 'Factual' possession actions together with other actions to exclude all others from ownership;
Possession of the land without consent. This means that you cannot acquire land where the owner has given you 'permission to use it'. This would mean that you acknowledge that another person owns the land.
In addition to the processes outlined above, you must have been doing this process for an uninterrupted period of 10-12 years.
For un registered land once you have reached the required 12 years and satisfied the above items, you may start to submit an application to land registry. Provided that the application is successful you will become the new registered owner of the land.
What happens if the relevant land is registered and I am wanting to claim adverse possession?
In the event where the land is registered and the person that is intending on adversely possessing the land. They can apply for ownership after 10 years instead of 12 years provided they satisfy the requirements above.
However, the Land Registry will notify the current registered owner, which will allow them to make make an objection, in this scenario it is much harder to possess registered land adversely.
If the registered owner makes no objections then you will be entered on the title deeds as the registered land owner.
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