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Title Deeds: Who Keeps Them?

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 26 Apr 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Title Deeds: Who Keeps Them?

Title deeds are legal documents that show who officially owns and holds title to a property or land. Titles deeds are sometimes known as land certificates and need to be officially registered with the HM Land Registry.

Why Title Deeds are Needed?

Title deeds are used as an official record of who owns the title to a property. For example, if a buyer is interested in purchasing a property then a solicitor will check the title deeds in order to make sure that the seller is entitled to sell the property. The title deeds may also have details on whether there are mortgages on the property, and whether anyone else has an interest in the property. The title deeds are also useful in gaining information on property boundaries and rights of way through a property.

Who Keeps Title Deeds?

Where the title deeds are kept is mainly dependant on whether there is a mortgage on the property or not. If there is a mortgage then the deeds will be kept by the mortgage lender. The deeds will only be returned to the owner once the mortgage on the property has been fully paid although photocopies of the deeds can be requested at any time. If no mortgage is held on a property then the title deeds will be kept by the owner. They can either be kept in the home or they can be held by a solicitor.

Property Burdens

Included in the title deeds will be a list of burdens, or obligations to the property that need to be met. These burdens can cover a wide range but they will usually include:

  • Repairs and maintenance to the property.
  • Access and rights of way for the property.
  • Restriction on using the property to run a business.
  • Information on restrictions on altering the property.
  • Whether or not the owner holds right to any roads that cross the property.
There are a number of burdens that will of course be dependant on the type of property or land. A solicitor will be able to advise if any of the language used in the title deeds is confusing or not clearly understandable.

Joint Ownership

An important part of the title deeds will be joint ownership. If the property is owned by more than one person then this will need to be included in the details. It should also set out exactly how much of the property is owned by each person, and there should be details on what will happen if the other person were to die; these details are known as survivorship details.

Survivorship Details

If there is a joint ownership on the property then having a survivorship clause is important. If the co-owner were to die then a survivorship clause will guarantee that the deceased person’s shares will go to the joint owner. If there is no survivorship clause and the property was not bought with a co-owner then details of property rights should be set down in a will. If no details are set down in a will then a legal decision will need to be made over the ownership rights.

Changing the Title Deeds

There are a number of reasons why an owner may want to change the title on property deeds. These could include if a co-owner sells or transfers their rights in the property, or if the owner wishes to sell their rights to the property. A solicitor will be needed if the title deeds are being changed, and there will be a fee for this service. If there is a mortgage on the property and if there are co-owners then the lenders or co-owners will need to agree to the changes.

Legally Binding Covenants

Covenants are legally binding rules that are set within the deeds and must be followed by the property owners. The covenants can be positive or negative. For example they may state that a property cannot be used for business purposes, that window frames on a property cannot be changed or can include agreements on property boundaries. If these covenants are broken, which does happen frequently, the property owners can be held legally liable. However, it may be that the original covenantor has long since moved on or is untraceable and so the new owners might not be held liable if breaking a covenant.

Breaching Deed Covenants

Who is liable when breaching covenants can be complicated. For example, a government or council official may make a ruling that a certain area is to become environmentally friendly and all houses must comply by changing the windows to energy efficient windows. However, if the deeds include a lifetime covenant that the windows cannot be changed then this would be a breach if the windows were altered. In this case the current property owners could be penalised for breaching the covenant. Liability over breaches of covenant can be a minefield and legal advice should always be sought if owners are considering breaking a covenant.

Title deeds are extremely important documents used as evidence of proof of ownership. Solicitors can be used when investigating the rights of ownership, but searches may also be made by the person who wishes to buy or find out who owns a property. If property is being considered for purchase then a check of the title deeds is always standard procedure and the sale should not go ahead without this information.

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[Add a Comment]
dannytom1 - Your Question:
We have the house deeds and have a secured loan with swift advances and being treated terrible by them to the point of them repossessing our house can they take the house off us even though we have the deeds

Our Response:
Individual house owners only hold a copy of the deeds. The Land Registry holds the originals deeds on electronic file.
ContractsAndAgreements - 27-Apr-17 @ 10:24 AM
we have the house deeds and have a secured loan with swift advances and being treated terrible by them to the pointof them repossessing our house can they take the house off us even though we have the deeds
dannytom1 - 26-Apr-17 @ 10:02 AM
Hi, my husband made a will to his daughter years before we got married. But after we got married the property was both in our name. If my husband died who will get the property? Me as his wife or his daughter in his first married?
Win - 13-Apr-17 @ 3:07 AM
My aunt sold the family property using falsified legal documentation claiming sole ownership yet the land was left to children's children's children and I hold the original deed. What actions may I proceed with if someone else now has assumed ownership and is attempting to sale
Lyndsie - 1-Apr-17 @ 3:08 PM
Hi. After my wife mum died, her dad couldn't cope with her adopted disabled sister who was 16 at the time. She was awarded criminal damages some of money after my wife's parents opsopted her due to the damage left after her real father was charged. To have jade live with us and our three children we had to put an extension on the side of our house and change some internal walls to accommodate jade. Jade paid for the work to be done. We now have her full time except for two days a month rest bite. The trustees and court are now saying jade must be put on the deeds of property and given 25% of our home. She is now getting a better quality of life and is so much happier here. Why do we need to give her 25% of our investment and children's future house
N/a - 22-Mar-17 @ 7:50 AM
If a property you are buying was a lease which still had 6 months to run, but has been surrendered, and you have completed and moved in, what has to be done with Land Registry Title, if the lease has not been removed from Register. Can Solicitor just let the end of lease date expire and Land Registry just issue Title Plan as per prior to the lease?
Gerry - 7-Mar-17 @ 11:51 AM
We are due to change our mortgage deal and wanting a better rate , however I have debt in a payment plan with step change . I have never missed payments . Can my husband get a mortgage in his name keeping me on the Deeds ?
Catherine - 8-Feb-17 @ 10:42 PM
Jeanie - Your Question:
My home was awarded to me in a divorce 17 yrs ago however it seems he's still on the deeds I've received an application to register a restriction against land as ex is in debt ! Can they still take my home even though it was awarded to me in court

Our Response:
You would need to take professional legal advice regarding this.
ContractsAndAgreements - 7-Feb-17 @ 11:14 AM
My home was awarded to me in a divorce 17 yrs ago however it seems he's still on the deeds I've receivedan application to register a restriction against land as ex is in debt ! Can they still take my home even though it was awarded to me in court
Jeanie - 6-Feb-17 @ 7:31 AM
My home was awarded to me in divorce however I have received an application to register land restriction my ex owes money and it would seem he's still on the deeds he left 17 yrs ago and I pay morgage ! Can they still take my house even though it was awarded to me in a court
Jeanie - 6-Feb-17 @ 7:27 AM
Hi. My parents want to sell their family home to me cash buy 60000 in scotland they would not be living in the propertyafter sale. Whats the best way to move forward to keep costs down. Thanks
ROMY - 3-Feb-17 @ 10:21 AM
I have power of attorney for my mum who is in a care home. Her house is rented out and the house deeds are in the bank. The council are loaning money to help her care home fees and have taken out a charge on her home. The loan will be repaid on her death. Now the council want me to hand over the title deeds for harm to keep. Is this normal?
GillyB - 25-Jan-17 @ 5:30 PM
Hi. My ex partner wants to transfer title def to my name. Am i legally obligated to accept the deeds? I dont want to own the property!
Flakeylady - 19-Jan-17 @ 10:42 AM
My hubby left we divorced my mortgage ends in June 17 how can I take my ex off the deeds he s happy to do this guilty conscience I think anyway I want him off the deeds plz help
Mags - 4-Jan-17 @ 11:17 AM
gj - Your Question:
Hi I have just bought a property and pay a mortgage for but my solicitor I used has sent me the original deeds ect in a bundle. Does this mean technihicaly I could stop paying mortgage as I have the original deeds not the bank?

Our Response:
The original register of your title deeds are held by the Land Registry, electronically. You have to continue paying your mortgage, but you might wish to query with your solicitor why the deeds have been sent to you.
ContractsAndAgreements - 22-Dec-16 @ 12:24 PM
Hi I have just bought a property and pay a mortgage for but my solicitor I used has sent me the original deeds ect in a bundle. Does this mean technihicaly I could stop paying mortgage as I have the original deeds not the bank?
gj - 21-Dec-16 @ 11:11 PM
I'd like to know if there is a register of properties what have no mortgage on them? ie if the mortgage is paid in full and nothing is owing then do these properties land on a list?
Jezzarilla - 12-Dec-16 @ 10:58 PM
How much solicitors charge for keeping your title Deeds safe?
Mick - 2-Nov-16 @ 10:52 PM
Jules57 - Your Question:
I have just paid off my mortgage and the building society says they don't have the title deeds. How can I find out where they are or can I get a copy as need to make sure I am the only owner on the property as my ex husband should have been removed 2 years ago.

Our Response:
Please see Land Registry link here which will answer your question.
ContractsAndAgreements - 27-Oct-16 @ 12:42 PM
I have just paid off my mortgage and the building society says they don't have the title deeds. How can I find out where they are or can I get a copy as need to make sure I am the only owner on the property as my ex husband should have been removed 2 years ago.
Jules57 - 26-Oct-16 @ 7:09 PM
I divorced in 2011 my name is still on deeds and mortgage of property I shared with my Ex he has lived in house since we separated. In the divorce there is a charge on house with my right to sell has now come into force. Currently I do not want to sell house however Ex now wants to change mortgage provider and add onto the mortgage to free up some capital to give to me. To do this he needs to take my name off deeds so he can get a mortgage alone. If I agree to do this would I still hold the right to sell the house and would the 'charge' still stand that I get my percentage of sale of house?
Min - 15-Oct-16 @ 8:41 AM
thejojomac - Your Question:
Hi, I inherited a property 5 years ago which I live in with my partner. We are not married. We have 3 children and are planning a big extension on the property which we will have to take a mortgage out for. My partner says I will have to change the Title Deeds of the property into joint names to apply for the mortgage. I cannot apply for the mortgage soley in my name he said as I'm not currently earning. Is there any way we can do this without having to put the title deeds into joint names? I'm worried if the relationship breaks down about entitlement etc. thanks

Our Response:
I suggest you seek legal advice regarding this. Your partner would be able to register and interest on the property should you separate, due to the financial input he is investing in the house and because the house would be in joint names.
ContractsAndAgreements - 6-Oct-16 @ 11:54 AM
Hi, I inherited a property 5 years ago which Ilive in with my partner. We are not married. We have 3 children and are planning a big extension on the property which we will have to take a mortgage out for. My partner says I will have to change the Title Deeds of the property into joint names to apply for the mortgage. I cannot apply for the mortgage soley in my name he said as I'm not currently earning. Is there any way we can do this without having to put the title deeds into joint names? I'm worried if the relationship breaks down about entitlement etc. thanks
thejojomac - 5-Oct-16 @ 3:38 PM
Do owners on a title deed, have to sign documents when they are transferred.
lou - 1-Oct-16 @ 5:43 AM
Lam - Your Question:
I have just bought a house for cash. I was told by my solicitor that the deeds are kept with Land Registry now both in England and Wales. How can I proof the house is mine if I am not given the deeds? Thanks.Lam

Our Response:
It's usual for your solicitor to give you a copy of the deeds on completion. You can see more via the Land Registry link here which should help answer your question more fully.
ContractsAndAgreements - 7-Sep-16 @ 2:22 PM
I have just bought a house for cash. i was told by my solicitor that the deeds are kept with Land Registry now both in England and Wales. How can I proof the house is mine if i am not given the deeds? Thanks. Lam
Lam - 6-Sep-16 @ 8:55 PM
Hi, my brother was awarded a large sum of money in 2015, from compensation of the army, and suffers with psd, he brought a house cash, and placed his partner on the deeds, they may be splitting . now she is saying she will keep the house, cause she is on the deeds, although she has contributednothing to the payment of the property what are her rights, they do have a daughter, Can she legally keep the house, or does my brother havin paid for the house have more rights, even though he placed her on the deeds,
Lukeos1985 - 1-Sep-16 @ 7:22 PM
Hi. I purchased our home with my husband so we have equal shares so if one of us passed away would the surviving partner automatically receive his or her share of the property? Also, as we have finished our mortgage can we apply for the full Original deeds to our property or only copies? Thank you so much for your help!
Eileen - 5-Aug-16 @ 2:15 PM
Jim - Your Question:
Not really a comment for discussion but I have just noticed a grammatical mistake near the top of this page headed - Who Keeps Title Deeds?Where the title deeds are kept is mainly dependant on whether there is a mortgage on the property of not. The word of should surely be or.Regards Jim Quinn

Our Response:
Many thanks for pointing this out Jim, we have rectified the mistake.
ContractsAndAgreements - 28-Jul-16 @ 11:49 AM
Not really a comment for discussion but I have just noticed a grammatical mistake near the top of this page headed- Who Keeps Title Deeds? Where the title deeds are kept is mainly dependant on whether there is a mortgage on the property of not. The word of should surely be or. Regards Jim Quinn
Jim - 27-Jul-16 @ 3:04 PM
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