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Title Deeds: Who Keeps Them?

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 18 Oct 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]
@Crete - All deeds are held by the Land Registry. A discharge fee is one of a number of administration fees charged by mortgage lenders once a mortgage has been repaid to cover the costs of returning the title deeds to you.
JenI - 19-Oct-17 @ 10:08 AM
We have just finished our mortgage with Leeds and have been told they do not hold the deeds which has been the way for 10 years and deeds are held by land registrybut we have been told we have to pay 66.00 to retrieve them is this correct.
Crete - 18-Oct-17 @ 3:53 PM
Laura - Your Question:
I’m trying to purchase a property at the moment but the sellers mortgage company are being very slow in releasing the title deeds to their solicitor. It’s been 13 weeks now. How long does it usually take? Is there anything we can do to force them to hand over the title deeds?

Our Response:
There are often many hold ups with regards to house conveyancing, for various reasons, such as problems/issues down the chain. Without knowing the reasons why, it is difficult to advise. There is little you can do to pressure the mortgage company to release the deeds - as again, the mortgage company may have its reasons for taking its time. You can only request that your solicitor attempts to find out the reason why.
ContractsAndAgreements - 13-Oct-17 @ 2:06 PM
I’m trying to purchase a property at the moment but the sellers mortgage company are being very slow in releasing the title deeds to their solicitor. It’s been 13 weeks now. How long does it usually take? Is there anything we can do to force them to hand over the title deeds?
Laura - 6-Oct-17 @ 3:39 PM
@Bren - with the deeds you should get the plans which will show you were the septic tanks is. If not the former owner should be able to tell you. Another method is to find the main building drain exit point and often the septic tank is 10 feet away in a straight line from that point. Failing that a local plumber may be able to help.
Garryku - 19-Sep-17 @ 3:56 PM
Is the septic location on the property feed?
Bren - 19-Sep-17 @ 4:49 AM
Is the location of the houses septic on a deed to the property?
Bren - 19-Sep-17 @ 4:45 AM
If a mortgage is being paid off but not yet taken off Deeds or seller does not have the document because lender hasn't completed the paperwork and property is already inprocess of being sold on what Title Document can be in included in the Bundle sent to buyer to enable searches on extent of title plan. What is a "Title Information Document". Does it show a copy of extent of title outlined in red? Thanks in anticipation
Gerry - 19-Aug-17 @ 3:15 AM
Is there a time limit on changing the name on prop deeds after someone dies and leaves the prop to you.?
twinkle - 6-Aug-17 @ 12:55 PM
@SEB27 - sounds expensive to me. Around £50 is usual. I'd do some research. Or contact Land Registry directly. You wont be given the originals anyway, just a copy which the Land Registry holds.
Louise67 - 24-Jul-17 @ 9:57 AM
Our mortgagefinisheda coupleof years ago and we went to our bank were our mortgagewas from to see about getting the house deeds we were told it was £195.00 is this correct.
SEB27 - 21-Jul-17 @ 4:14 PM
@Nutrocker - there are paper copies of deeds, but all the originals stay with the Land Registry and are online.
Elle - 21-Jul-17 @ 2:48 PM
I paid my mortgage off a few years ago. Just recently I thought about the deeds so went to the lending bank to ask for the deeds to be returned. I was told that there is no such thing as paper deeds and all deeds are now online. Is this correct.
Nutrocker - 21-Jul-17 @ 12:48 PM
Hi A couple of months ago i received my original deeds through the post from a previous mortgage lender.I still have a mortgage. What if any are the implications?
Smac - 3-Jul-17 @ 6:03 AM
Hi, I have a mortgage with HSBC but a couple of months ago i receivedlarge parcel containing my original deeds from a previous mortgage lender saying they had found them in their storage. What, if any are the implications of this. Thank you.
Smac - 3-Jul-17 @ 5:57 AM
@Kirsty - If you haven't bought the house two doors away, then you don't own it regardless of whether you have the deeds in your possession. It sounds like a mistake has been made. You may wish to return the deeds to whomever sent them out.
Ken45 - 26-Jun-17 @ 12:44 PM
Hi I purchased a house and received the deeds I also received the deeds to another house 2 doors up both deeds have the same name on the of the man who owned them but we only paid for one this has only just came to out attention does this mean we own both properties
Kirsty - 23-Jun-17 @ 8:36 PM
R - Your Question:
I have a mortgage with Halifax which is ending this month and simply need to know if they have the title deeds to my property?

Our Response:
As specified in the article, 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. Therefore, you will need to contact the Halifax directly for more information.
ContractsAndAgreements - 20-Jun-17 @ 12:24 PM
I have a mortgage with Halifax which is ending this month and simply need to know if they have the title deeds to my property?
R - 17-Jun-17 @ 2:15 PM
Hi, when we changed mortgages the lender gave us the original deeds to the house, rather than just a photocopy, does this mean that we Own the house and they can' throw us out the house?
ABE - 22-May-17 @ 11:05 AM
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
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