What are title deeds and why do I need them?


When you’re buying a property, one of the things you’ll hear mentioned by both your estate agent and solicitor is the title deeds. But what are they?

The deeds are essential when determining who owns property or land in England and Wales. Held at HM Land Registry, they are important when buying property.

What are title deeds?

Title deeds contain information about a property. The documents can include wills, leases, mortgage information and contracts for sale. Collectively, they show:

  • Whether the tenure is freehold or leasehold
  • Where the property’s boundaries exist
  • The details of the legal owner of the property
  • Any restrictions, such as rights of access and use of the property
  • Mortgage lender’s details

What are they used for?

In general, the title deeds are used when there are legal disputes about a particular property. These documents determine who legally owns the property and land, access rights and each body that has a financial interest in the property and land.


By referring back to these documents, any disputes surrounding the property should be cleared up. When it comes to boundaries, they are not always precise so there can be confusion over who has right of way or whether you or your neighbour is responsible for boundary maintenance. For example, who should repair fences when they become wind damaged.


Where can I find copies of title deeds?

Title deeds are legally stored with the Land Registry. These are digital copies as paper ones are no longer as necessary as they were. But your mortgage lender may hold paper copies along with your mortgage deeds.

A conveyancing solicitor may hold the title deeds on your behalf, although this is less common these days.

As long as your home is registered with the Land Registry you don’t need the original title deeds. But some people use theirs for decoration, and you can find copies by going an online search for your property.

To get a copy of your title deeds, you will need to order them from HM Land Registry. You need to fill out an ‘OC1’ form.

If you want to track down the original deeds when the property was first built, you can try your conveyancing solicitor, mortgage lender or the previous owner(s).


Can I sell a property without the title deeds?

You can, but it won’t be as easy! You can obtain a possessory title deed, which are known as a ‘Qualified Title’, when the ‘Absolute Title’ can’t be proven. Original title deeds can go missing if they are lost or damaged beyond recognition, such as in a flood or fire.

Trying to sell without the ‘Absolute Title’ can lead to a long, drawn-out process. It could also affect the price you’re able to ask for the property.

Should I buy a property without the deeds?

Buying a property without title deeds can be risky. It is best to ensure your conveyancing solicitor has the experience to do this. There will be extra work to carry out before you exchange contracts, so your costs will be higher.

Make sure you ask for indemnity insurance to cover you for any unclear covenants not shown in the possessory title deed.

• At Jill Moore, we have decades of experience in buying and selling houses in Washington and throughout the North East. Contact our team for more information.

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