If a property is registered with the Land Registry but the original deeds are still held, it's wise to keep hold of these and store them somewhere safe along with any other documents and searches that you may have received following completion. A common belief is that thesedeeds become completely obsolete once the property has been registered, but they are known as pre-registration deeds.
The term "title deeds" when a property is registered will include other important documents. For example, this could include an original Lease, any Licence benefitting the property, a share certificate in a management company, any Trust Deed as well as other documents containingimportant information. This is information which you won't want to lose and you will need when you come to sell.
Why Are the Deeds Still Important?
Apart from historic interest, there are certain documents relating to the property that will not be kept on file at the Land Registry once the title has been registered. For this reason it's always best to keep hold of the original title deeds and accompanying paperwork if possible.
The pre-registration title deeds will contain the original title deeds and deed plan which were required by the Land registry on first registration, and the plan may be marked to show which boundaries belong to the property. If the property is held in a Trust a copy of the Trust Deed should be kept with the deeds as this will not be kept by the Land Registry.
Alongside the title deeds, there is often other paperwork that will need to be provided when the house is sold. For example, any planning permission and building regulation consent that has been granted for the property, any indemnity insurance policy or any specialist reports, guarantees or warranties (including NHBC or equivalent guarantees) which will need to be handed over to the new owner on completion. For more information, see What Paperwork do I Need to Sell My House?
If the property deeds have been disposed of because the property is registered, then some of these vital documents could have been thrown out with them.
Severing a Joint Tenancy
Property can be owned jointly in one of two ways – either as Joint Tenants or as Tenants in Common. If the property is owned as Joint Tenants, this means that both owners own the property as a whole, with neither having an identifiable share. If it's owned as Tenants in Common, however, then each owner will have their share in the property clearly defined. This is often divided 50/50, but it can be divided in any proportion.
If a property is owned as Joint Tenants, this means that when one owner dies, ownership of the property will pass into the sole name of the surviving joint owner. However, some people choose to sever their Joint Tenancy in order to protect their share in the property for future generations.
It may be that they are concerned about the property value being swallowed up in care fees, for example, so decide to ring-fence this with a Trust in their Will. In order to do this, the Joint Tenancy will need to be severed and ownership of the property converted to Tenants in Common, so that it's clear how much of the property each person owns.
When the Joint Tenancy has been severed, this will be set out on a document called a 'Notice of Severance.' While there is a legal requirement for all property sales and purchases in England and Wales to be registered at the Land Registry, there is no requirement for the Notice of Severance to be registered as a restriction on the title.
This means that without this document, it may not be clear that the Joint Tenancy has been severed. This could cause significant issues, particularly for loved ones dealing with the owners' Estates after they have died.
Therefore, it's essential that the Notice of Severance is kept safe even when a restriction has been registered on the title. If the paper deeds to the property are still owned, then this document should naturally be kept with the deeds. If the paper deeds are disposed of, then it would be very easy for this important document to be mislaid.