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Public Guide 13 – Applications for first registration made by the owner in person

Updated: January 2014

Update

This edition of the guide replaces the October 2013 edition. Section 11.2 has been amended to show a revised address for applications.

Scope of this guide

This guide explains how to apply to register the title to freehold or leasehold land that is not already registered. It is aimed at members of the public.

1 Introduction

You can apply to Land Registry to register the title to freehold or leasehold land that is not already registered. Once this has taken place, the register provides state-backed registration, giving greater security of title. Land Registry issues an official copy of the register and title plan when the registration is complete.

The work involved in applying for first registration is quite technical, and most people employ a solicitor or licensed conveyancer to do it. But you can do it yourself if you prefer. This guide explains the process.

2 Compulsory and voluntary registration

Before 1 April 1998 compulsory registration only applied when land was sold, and before 1 December 1990 it did not apply at all in some areas of England and Wales. If you need to know when an area became subject to compulsory registration, you can contact Customer Support (see Contact details).

Under normal circumstances, you must apply for first registration of your land if:

  • you bought it

  • you received it in exchange for other land or property

  • it was leased to you

  • it was given to you

  • it was transferred to you to hold as trustee(s) on the creation of a trust

  • it was transferred to you under a court order

  • you received it by assent from the personal representative(s) on someone's death

  • you have mortgaged it and handed over the deeds to the lender. In this case the lender will generally submit the application – please see section 6 Documents that must accompany the application form.

Compulsory registration does not apply to most leases granted for seven years or fewer. The exceptions are:

  • when the lease is granted to take effect in possession more than three months after the date of the grant, unless the landlords themselves only own a lease that has less than seven years to run

  • when the lease has been granted under the right to buy provisions of Part V of the Housing Act 1985

  • when the lease is subject to a preserved right to buy under the provisions of s.171A of the Housing Act 1985.

Compulsory registration also does not apply to leasehold land if, when you acquired it, the lease had no more than seven years to run or there was no obligation to register the land at the time you bought it.

Leases granted by social landlords (typically housing associations or local authorities) in respect of flexible or assured tenancies are incapable of registration, regardless of how long the lease is granted for.

You can apply to register your land voluntarily at any time. In addition, there are some relatively uncommon interests in land that you can register voluntarily if you own them. These are rentcharges, profits a prendre in gross, and franchises. For information about these interests, see Practice Guide 16 – Profits a prendre in gross, and Practice Guide 18 – Franchises.

Please contact Customer Support (see Contact details) for further information regarding voluntary and compulsory registration.

3 Search to find out if a property is registered

Land Registry maintains an index map, from which it is possible to get the details of every registered title within England and Wales. If you think that a property in which you have an interest may already be registered, you can apply to the relevant Land Registry office for a search of the index map. Contact Customer Support (see Contact details) or look on our website for any fees payable for this service and for information on the correct form to use.

If you want to register a franchise, some details regarding registered franchises may be held in an index of verbal descriptions. For further information, please see Practice Guide 13 – Official searches of the index of relating franchises and manors.

4 How to apply for registration

4.1 First registration

To apply for first registration, you must complete a first registration application form FR1 and send it with the items mentioned in section 6 Documents that must accompany the application form to Land Registry. An example of a completed form FR1 is set out in section 12 Appendix A.

4.2 Absolute leasehold title

If you want to apply for absolute leasehold title, make sure that either the landlord's title is already registered with an absolute freehold title, or your application includes adequate evidence of the landlord's title and of the title of their landlord (if any).

If the lease was granted after the lessor's title was registered (unless it is dated before 13 October 2003 and the term is for less than 21 years), you should apply for a dealing against registered land rather than for first registration. See Practice Guide 25 – Leases – when to register.

4.3 Overriding interests

When you register a property, you must provide information about 'overriding interests' when you are aware of them. Overriding interests affect the land but are not shown in the title deeds. They are rights over and interests in registered land that bind purchasers even though they are not protected by a notice or otherwise on the register.

If you need more information about overriding interests, please see Practice Guide 15 – Overriding interests and their disclosure. Please note that this guide has been written primarily for solicitors and other legal representatives.

4.4 Merger of interests

If you own both the freehold and leasehold interests and both are unregistered, you may be able to register the freehold and merge the leasehold into it if you wish. This would mean that you would end up with just a freehold title because the leasehold would no longer exist. In this case, the fee payable is based on the combined value of the two interests.

5 Evidence of title

The title you produce should be one that a professional adviser would advise a buyer to accept. You should present the application for registration as if you were presenting it for examination by a buyer's solicitor or licensed conveyancer. It does not matter if the title, or any part of it, is already known to Land Registry. Although we will help you as much as we can, we will not know the facts about your particular title and cannot act as your legal adviser. We cannot tell you how to prepare your title for first registration and we cannot give an opinion on any document before you make the application. If you are in any doubt or difficulty, you should seek professional advice.

6 Documents that must accompany the application form

You must send us:

  • sufficient details, by plan or otherwise, so that we can clearly identify the land on the Ordnance Survey map. If the deeds contain such a plan, we don't need a separate one. If we are unable to identify the land, we will have to reject the application

  • all the original deeds and other documents of title that you either have in your possession or can obtain, including:

    • opinions of counsel

    • abstracts and epitomes of title

    • copies of documents

    • contracts for sale

    • requisitions on title and replies

    • searches

Include all the old original deeds, even if the period they cover is prior to the title you saw when you bought the property. If you have mortgaged the property and handed over the deeds to the lender, you should arrange for the lender to submit the application. If you are unable to supply the original deeds you should explain why. We may be able to proceed on the basis of abstracts or certified copies of the documentation if you are not able to lodge these.

  • both the original and a copy of the lease when applying to register a leasehold estate. We will return the original lease and retain the copy

  • the result of a search (using form K15) in the Land Charges Department, against the names of all the people who have owned the property since 1925 and whose names appear on the title. If you have details (usually in the epitome of title) of the searches made before or at the time the seller purchased the property, or if they are with the deeds, you will usually only need to make a search against your seller or lessor. If the 'result of the search' reveals any entries, you should make a note on the result of search form, stating whether the entry affects your land. If it does, the document to which the entry relates should be with the title deeds. If you cannot supply a copy of this document, then you must obtain an official copy of the Land Charge from the Land Charges Department and send it to us

  • two copies of Land Registry form DL, listing all the documents you are sending to us. An example of a completed form DL is set out in section 13 Appendix B

  • the prescribed fee (see section 9 Land Registry fees)

  • a completed form DI, when disclosing overriding interests that are not referred to in the deeds lodged.

We will return all the original documents to you except for a conveyance or assignment to yourself, subsisting lease, any subsisting mortgage or any statutory declaration or statement of truth. If you would like the original of any of these documents returned, you must supply a copy of it, certified to be a true copy. Any original document that we retain may be destroyed once we have scanned it for our electronic records.

Some documents may contain sensitive personal or commercial information. You may if you wish make an application using form EX1 to exempt the sensitive information from the general right of the public to inspect any document held by Land Registry. If you need further details, please see Practice Guide 57 – Exempting documents from the general right to inspect and copy.

7 Lost or destroyed deeds

It is much harder to apply successfully for first registration when some or all of the original deeds or documents of title that should be in your possession are missing or have been destroyed. If this is the case, you will need to supply a statutory declaration or statement of truth describing when, where, and how the deeds were lost or destroyed. It must also confirm that no one else has any interest whatsoever in the property and, in particular, that the missing deeds are not deposited as a security for a loan.

We recommend that you use form ST3 – Statement of truth in support of an application for registration of land based upon lost or destroyed title deeds to accompany forms FR1 and DL. This form sets out the framework for the information and evidence you will need to supply.

Use of form ST3 is not obligatory, nor will using it guarantee that your application is successful, but it will help you to make sure that none of the requirements set out here has been overlooked.

If you prefer to use a statutory declaration, you must swear it before a commissioner for oaths, a justice of the peace (magistrate) or a practising solicitor.

Whether you use form ST3 (or an alternative form of statement of truth) or a statutory declaration, you must support it with the best secondary evidence of the title that is available. For example, if you can obtain a complete draft of a missing deed from the solicitor or licensed conveyancer who acted for a previous owner, you should produce it together with a certified copy for us to file.

In order to guard against fraud, we will need to verify your identity. Information on this can be found in Public Guide 20 – Evidence of identity – non-conveyancers.

Although we will consider applications of this kind sympathetically, you should bear in mind that we might only offer a possessory title. If we are unable to approve your application we will refund the fee that you have paid.

8 Stamp duty and stamp duty land tax

Dealings in land prior to 1 December 2003 may be subject to stamp duty. Contact HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) on 0845 6030135 to verify whether stamp duty applies to your document or deed. A document that requires stamp duty must be stamped before it is submitted to us.

Dealings in land dated after 30 November 2003 for 'chargeable consideration' (essentially the payment of money or moneys worth) will require the payment of stamp duty land tax and must be notified to HMRC on a land transaction return form (SDLT1). Those dealings in land that do not have a chargeable consideration, for example, conveyances or transfers by way of gift, do not need to be notified to HMRC.

You can obtain advice from the Inland Revenue on any aspect of stamp duty land tax by phoning HMRC's phone helpline on 0845 6030135. Alternatively, you can find comprehensive guidance on its website at www.hmrc.gov.uk

9 Land Registry fees

Fees on first registration are based on Scale 1 in the current Land Registration Fee Order. You arrive at the fee payable by valuing the property in one of three ways, depending on your circumstances.

  • If your application is made within one year of a purchase, you pay a Scale 1 fee on the purchase price, together with the amount of the mortgage if it was bought subject to an existing mortgage.

  • In other cases, you pay a Scale 1 fee on the open market value of the property free of any mortgage.

  • To calculate the fee payable for a first registration of a lease, please see the current Land Registration Fee Order.

If your application is a compulsory one, you must pay the full Scale 1 fee. However, if you are making a voluntary application, you will pay a reduced fee as shown in the current Land Registration Fee Order.

From time to time, Scale 1 fees change to ensure that we cover our costs and that customers get the benefit of improvements in productivity. You can contact Customer Support (see Contact details) to find out the current fees.

Enclose a cheque or postal order for the fee payable, made out to Land Registry. Please do not send cash. If you do not have a cheque account you can get a cheque from your bank or building society.

10 Keeping your name and address up to date

It is important that Land Registry has your correct details. An incorrect name or address may mean that you do not receive letters or notices that Land Registry sends to you. These communications will normally relate to proposed alterations to the register, so it is important that you receive and respond to them promptly.

You should always make sure that your name and address in the register are up to date. If they are not, you should apply by letter to the relevant Land Registry office, asking for the register to be altered. You should supply proof of any change of name (for example, a copy of a marriage certificate or a deed poll). No fee is payable. For more information, please see Public Guide 2 – Keeping your address for service up to date.

11 General information

If you have a particular problem that is not covered by this guide, please contact Land Registry (see Contact details). If the problem is particularly complex, it may be better if you make your enquiry in writing. Although we cannot advise you on matters of title, you can phone us if you are uncertain about how to prepare your application or calculate the fee payable, or if you need any information.

11.1 Forms

See Appendices A and B for details of how to complete forms FR1 and DL. You may buy all Land Registry forms mentioned in this guide from law stationers. You can also download them from our website.

11.2 Addresses

For members of the public lodging your own application, send your application to:

Citizen Centre
Land Registry Wales Office
Tŷ Cwm Tawe
Phoenix Way
Llansamlet
Swansea
SA7 9FQ 

For other appplicants please refer to Office Finder or Practice Guide 51 – Where to send paper applications available to view or download from our website www.landregistry.gov.uk. You can also contact Customer Support at customersupport@landregistry.gsi.gov.uk or telephone 0844 892 1111, or 0844 892 1122 for a Welsh-speaking service, from Monday to Friday between 8am and 6pm.

If you have any comments or suggestions about our guides, please send them to:

Central Operations Group
Land Registry
Trafalgar House
1 Bedford Park
Croydon CR0 2AQ

(DX 8888 Croydon 3)

12 Appendix A

The example of form FR1 below is for a voluntary first registration application (and the deeds have not been lost). Panels 13 – 16 do not have to be completed on such applications. If you are submitting a compulsory first registration, or one based on lost title deeds, see Public Guide 20 – Evidence of identity – non-conveyancers for guidance on how to complete these panels.

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13 Appendix B

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