Voluntary registration of title to land

  • Insight

05 April 2017

What is voluntary registration?

In order to transfer land from one person to another, the deed doing that (the “disposition”) must be registered in the Land Register. Voluntary registration is a way of getting your land registered on the Land Register without transferring it to somebody else: there is no transaction involved; there is no deed.

A number of successful voluntary registrations have been made of rural land. This work continues. In addition, Registers of Scotland have recently set up a dedicated team for voluntary registration of commercial property.

Why do it?

In Scotland there are two registers of land. Many properties are on the older General Register of Sasines, which was a great innovation of its time, but does not meet modern needs. The other register is the Land Register.

Registration in the Land Register brings the following benefits:

  • Clearly defined property boundaries based on the Ordnance Survey Map
  • A single title sheet which discloses title burdens, rights and heritable securities
  • A state-backed warranty of the information on the title sheet
  • Faster and cheaper conveyancing once registered

In 2014, the target was set to complete the Land Register by 2024 (2019 is the target for all public land) so the expectation is that registration of all land will be done in the coming years.

In 2014, 26% of properties were in the Land Register. That figure is now around 60%.

What is the alternative?

Until late 2014 titles could only enter the Land Register following particular types of transfer, such as sale. In 2014, in order to enable faster completion of the Land Register, two further methods became available. One is voluntary registration; the other is Keeper-induced Registration (“KIR”).

The Keeper of the Registers of Scotland can choose a property to register and do so of her own volition. The owner is neither involved nor notified, and is charged nothing at the point of registration. This is KIR.

The major disadvantage of entering the Register by KIR is lack of owner control over the registration process. This is a point of difference with voluntary registration, in which the owner initiates the registration process and it is carried out in collaboration with the Keeper’s staff.

Another point of difference can be cost. KIR costs nothing at the point of registration. But rectifying any errors in the Land Register will involve cost. And it may be that such errors are only discovered when seeking to transfer or lease the property, or use it as security for a loan, causing unwanted delays in those transactions. The ultimate cost of voluntary registration is more easily known.

Keeper-induced Registration is likely to work well for properties such as those on modern housing estates where the titles are all similar. For other land, such as large estates, whether rural, commercial or industrial, the titles are much more individual as to boundaries, burdens on the title, and rights that come with the title.

How can we help?

Since its inception, we have been carrying out voluntary registration, fine-tuning our existing expertise to this particular area. We can advise you on whether voluntary registration suits your particular property and circumstances, taking you through to registration if you decide to proceed.

How much does it cost?

At present there is a 25% reduction in registration dues for voluntary registration. This has been guaranteed until 2019. Our fees depend upon the nature of the property.

Further information

For further information on the voluntary registration process, please contact Sophie Noble. For any commercial property enquiries, please contact Jon McGee.

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