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How Can I Find Out Who Owns a Property or Land?

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How Can I Find Out Who Owns a Property or Land?
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If you are interested in buying a property, you need to know who owns it. Lots of people spot their dream home while out and about – and decide to approach the owner, to enquire about buying it off them.

In this case, you may be wondering: “How can I find out who owns a property or land?”.

Fortunately, in the UK, there are tools available that help you to find out who owns a property or land. We have outlined what you can use to discover this information below – as well as why you may want to know who owns a property or land.

The reasons for wanting to know who owns a property

It is important to know who owns a property because there are various ways a property can be owned.

Normally, with most residential houses, the land registry will show that it is owned by the couple living there. Of course, in the case of someone living on their own, there may only be one name that the house is registered under.

If you are interested in buying the property, it is important that you know you are speaking with the person who can make decisions about the property. This makes this information from the land registry incredibly important. For example, if it is jointly owned by two people, then it isn’t enough to make a deal with just one of them – you need both of them to be in the room.

You may want to access information for HM Land Registry in order to complete due diligence on who has owned the property over the years, and for how long.

What is HM Land Registry?

HM Land Registry registers the ownership of land and property in England and Wales.

HM Land Registry enables you to access a property summary, which provides the following information:

  • Address
  • Property description
  • The type of ownership the property has
  • Any ‘restrictive covenants’ – e.g. not being allowed to build on a particular area
  • Any ‘easements’ – e.g. a ‘right of way’

Once you enter the address of the property you are interested in, this information becomes available to you.

How much does it cost to find out who owns a property or land? 

If you want to download title documents with ownership registration, you need to create an account with HM Land Registry.

It usually costs £3 for basic title information. If you then want to get hold of a flood risk indicator, then it will cost you above £10.

Why you should explore beyond the land registry

Recent figures have indicated that approximately 15% of land and property in the UK is unregistered. The most common reason that a property or land is unregistered is that it hasn’t changed ownership between 1925 and 1985. This means that you will be unable to discover some property or land with the land registry – and should therefore explore beyond.

You could hire a tracing agent to find the information for you, access local records, or even check the electoral register.

There is also some information which the land registry doesn’t keep, which may still be useful to you as a prospective buyer. This includes:

  • Title deeds dated before the date the property was first registered
  • Copies of deeds that are not referred to in the register
  • Court orders
  • Birth, marriage or death certificates
  • Civil partnership documents
  • Grants of probate or letters of administration

There are different sources you can use to access each piece of information. And of course, your reasoning for wanting any of this information (as well as which one you want) can vary. Therefore, while HM Land Registry is extremely valuable, it is often worthwhile searching beyond the registry.

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