Office copy entries are an electronic condensed version of a property’s title deeds recorded at the Land Registry.
These are technically known as an Official Copy of The Register of Title. Office copy entries are effectively the modern equivalent to an old-fashioned paper title deed.
They are also often informally referred to as a property’s title register. However, this specifically refers to the information inside, rather than the official form of the document.
Essentially, office copy entries contain a snapshot of the pertinent details relating to a property. These will include who owns it, who leases it, and any charges held against it.
When do you need office copy entries?
You will need an office copy entry when you are selling a property. Your solicitor or will order this for you as part of the conveyancing exercise.
This is because the title register shows the recent ownership history of a property and acts as proof of ownership.
When buying a property, you may also want to see a copy of its title register.
This is so that you can ensure the ownership, leasehold status, and any secured loans are known.
In addition, as a buyer you will need to know about any covenants that apply to the property. Covenants may impact whether you want to purchase the property and the amount you are willing to pay as much for it.
Where do I get office copy entries?
You can order office copy entries from HM Land Registry. They cost £3 each.
Anyone can order copies of the title register for any property. This does not require the permission of its owner.
All you need is a credit or debit card and to visit the Land Registry’s website.
You can also order other documents from the Land Registry, including the title plan, which supports the information contained in the title register.
What is included in office copy entries?
An office copy entry is divided into four parts, each of which contains different type of information about the property.
These are the header, the property register, the proprietorship register, and the charges register.
Note an office copy entry must have “Official Copy of the Register of Entries” at the head of the first page in order to be valid.
If it is headed with something else, including the words “Register View”, it is not an official copy. This means it is not admittable as evidence of contents of the register.
The header contains the title number, the edition date, the date and time of the official copy, and details of the Land Registry office which is responsible for the title.
The title number is a unique code representing a parcel of land. Each separately registered property has a unique title number, which connects all the documents that relate to it.
The edition date indicates when the title was last updated. This is usually when the property was last sold, when a mortgage was taken out against a property, or when a mortgage was paid off. Any change to a property ownership will lead to a new edition of the title register being created
The date and time the official copy was download will be recorded in the header. Note that ordering an official copy will not create a new edition.
Technically, an office copy entry is out of date as soon as it is created, and you need to use one created six months or less ago when completing a sale.
Finally, the header contains details of which Land Registry Office produced the title. This is normally a Land Registry office, but occasionally it can be a dedicated team at a solicitor’s firm.
Section A: The Property Register
The property register contains information about the land and any rights which benefit it. These can include access rights, rights to light, and more.
It also indicates which county the property is in, which local authority administrates its area, what its address is, whether it is leasehold or freehold, and describes the land boundaries on the title plan.
If the property is a leasehold this section will also show basic information about the lease, including when it was agreed, and the parties involved.
Section B: The Proprietorship Register
The proprietorship register shows you who currently owns a property, and the class of their title.
Title classes come in four categories.
These are absolute titles, qualified titles, good leaseholds, and possessory titles.
Absolute titles are the strongest form of property title, and there is no way this kind of property can be legally contested or claimed against.
Owners with an absolute title retain all rights to the underlying land. They are sometimes referred to as perfect titles. They can apply to both leasehold and freehold property.
Properties owned with an absolute title are often substantially more valuable than those owned through other kinds of title.
A possessory, or possessive, title is created when an applicant registers a title without sufficient documents.
This is often caused by the loss of title deeds. For example, many deeds were lost during bombing raids in the second world war while others have been lost in housefires or floods.
When these properties were registered with HM Land Registry, they will have been granted possessive titles.
At other times, a possessory title can arise from people squatting on a property for an extended period without objections.
If a person, or group of people, have been exclusively using a property for 12 years without permission or objections and have demonstrated they intend to own and protect the land they can claim a possessive title.
If this happens, HM Land Registry will write to everyone with an interest in the land, who can then respond and put a stop to this process.
After a possessive title has been held without successful challenge for 12 years, it can be upgraded to an absolute title.
It can be very difficult to get a mortgage against a property held via possessive title.
If you own a property via a possessory title, you should probably buy possessory title indemnity insurance.
A qualified title is a title with a specific defect.
This defect will be stated in the register and is generally a threat to an owner’s right to claim or sell a property.
This could be an ownership dispute, or a mortgage debt. Alternatively, they may have the trail of proof of ownership going back the full 15 years required.
Because other parties can claim the property, a qualified title cannot be legally transferred to someone else by sale or inheritance.
Qualified titles are very rarely seen. They can be upgraded to absolute titles at the Land Registry if proof is provided that the ownership problems have been resolved.
A good leasehold is also very rare. It confirms when a leasehold interest in a property is registered while the freeholder is unknown.
This is sometimes the case when a leasehold is registered at the Land Registry, but the freehold is not.
If someone proves they own the freehold to a property, and that the person who granted the lease has no right to have done so, this can cause serious problems for the leaseholder.
It is advised to buy indemnity insurance when purchasing a property held as a Good Leasehold, as the sudden emergence of the freeholder could potentially cause you substantial losses.
Section C: The Charges Register
The final section of the title register is called the charges register.
This section contains information on existing mortgages, other financial charges, notices which apply to the property and any restrictive covenants.
These appear in the order they were originally registered, and earlier entries have priority over later entries.
Covenants are binding conditions which are contained in a property’s deeds. These can include things like limiting or banning building and business.
Covenants run with the land, meaning that they pass from owner to owner. Covenants traditionally stop people doing things, but you can legally enforce a positive covenant too, even over an extended chain of sellers.
Charges generally refers to financial charges, like mortgages, registered against the property.
These are listed in order of priority. If a property is sold, and there is not enough equity to satisfy all charges, the higher priority charges will be paid off first.
The holder of a charge possesses a legal right called power of sale. This is the power to repossess a property if the holder breaks the conditions of the charge.
Finally, notices are entries in the charges register which protect a third party. These can include things ranging from matrimonial home rights to bankruptcy petitions to contracts for sale.
Just because a notice is in the register, it does not make it valid.
An Official Copy of The Register of Title for a property is a legal copy of its title register.
This is one of the most important title documents and is vital when selling a house.
Also known as an office copy, or an official copy, office copy entries confirm many important aspects about a property.
These includes its ownership status, owner, leasehold status, any covenants it either benefits from or is bound by, and any notices or charges which apply to it.
By using the unique title number you can find other related documents held by the Land Registry, including the title plan, which supports the information contained in the title registry.
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