Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Stake Your Claim to Overcome Land Rows

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Stake Your Claim to Overcome Land Rows

Article excerpt

Byline: Sarah Judd

Farmers and landowners are being encouraged to register their land now to avoid problems and disputes in the future.

The Land Registry - the Government department responsible for registering land ownership in England and Wales - recently announced a target of registering all the remaining unregistered land across England by the year 2012.

It is trying to simplify matters, as well as providing a fees concession.

Anne Elliott, partner at Darlington law firm Latimer Hinks, advises that there are a number of benefits and incentives in voluntarily registering land.

Anne explained: "Having land registered generally speaking provides the ultimate guarantee of evidence of ownership.

"It is also the most effective way to bring all documentation up to date and allows easy access to details online.

"Land and properties with unregistered titles can cause unnecessary delays and additional expense to owners who wish to dispose of all or part of their holdings.

"Deals involving unregistered land can take considerably longer to complete than those where the details of ownership are already registered with the Land Registry."

A survey by the BBC in early 2006 found 50% of land in England and Wales was still unregistered.

According to Anne Elliott, this can create a wealth of problems for owners or family members attempting to dispose of land, especially where it has been in the family for many years.

Anne said: "Selling all or part of a land holding always means that the full nature of the title to the land has to be investigated.

"Unregistered title deeds may have been in the same family for many years and may run to many hundreds of pages.

"In that time maps will have changed and memoranda of sale or deeds of grant of rights over land may have been finalised but have become separated from the deeds or the details may be incomplete.

"This can be particularly difficult to deal with in the case of the death of the owner or occupying landowner.

"The beneficiaries of his estate may well not know the boundaries of the land and it can take many hours of legal work, and inevitable delay and expense, to establish with certainty what is actually owned," she added. …

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