Is all land registered?
It is now compulsory to register all land/property which changes ownership or has a mortgage for the first time. Compulsory land registration has been extended gradually across the country over 90 years. It was not until 1990 that the whole of England and Wales came under compulsory registration. This means that approximately a quarter of land/property in England and Wales remains unregistered because no dealings affecting it have led to compulsory registration.
Practice Guide 51 – Areas served by Land Registry offices contains the date(s) of when each part of England and Wales came under compulsory registration.
If you require information about the ownership of land that is not registered, you will have to investigate other sources of information. For example, in Middlesex and the Yorkshire Ridings, deeds registries were set up prior to land registration. These registries kept records of certain land transactions, but the deeds were registered against the names of the people involved, rather than by an address. To make a search of a deeds registry you need to know the name of a previous or current owner of the property.
The Land Charges Department maintains a record of restrictive covenants, rights and mortgages relating to unregistered land. These are registered against the name of the land owner at the time the entry was made, rather than against the land or property. For example, if you want to find out about a restrictive covenant that was registered before you bought your property, you need to search against the name of the owner at the time the covenant was registered.
The National Archives, county record offices and your local main borough library may have information about land/property.