Q&As

A client purchased a small parcel of land in 1985 (this parcel remains unregistered). The only proof that the client has of this transaction is a letter from the vendor confirming their purchase and they were not provided with any other deeds. Title reconstruction would not be appropriate as the deeds were not necessarily lost/destroyed, rather the client never received them. Would adverse possession be possible, as the letter confirming purchase may be ‘permission’ to use the land? Are there any suggestions as to the appropriate application to pursue with the Land Registry?

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Published on LexisPSL on 11/02/2020

The following Property Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • A client purchased a small parcel of land in 1985 (this parcel remains unregistered). The only proof that the client has of this transaction is a letter from the vendor confirming their purchase and they were not provided with any other deeds. Title reconstruction would not be appropriate as the deeds were not necessarily lost/destroyed, rather the client never received them. Would adverse possession be possible, as the letter confirming purchase may be ‘permission’ to use the land? Are there any suggestions as to the appropriate application to pursue with the Land Registry?
  • First registration of title if deeds have been lost or destroyed
  • Adverse possession
  • Conclusion

In this Q&A, the title deeds were never received rather than destroyed or lost. If there are missing or destroyed title deeds, the application for first registration must give an account of the events that resulted in the loss or destruction. HM Land Registry will consider each case on its merits, but will likely grant only a possessory title where the evidence supplied does not establish those events and put the history of the title beyond doubt. For further guidance, see Practice Note: Deducing title to unregistered land—stamp duty, mortgages, execution of documents, missing title deeds, sales of part and other considerations.

First registration of title if deeds have been lost or destroyed

The Land Registration Rules 2003 (LRR 2003), SI 2003/1417, r 27 was amended by Land Registration (Amendment) Rules 2008, SI 2008/1919, Sch 1, r 4(1), para 8(1) to be reformulated as: ‘First registration applications based on adverse possession or where title documents are otherwise unavailable’. LRR 2003, SI 2003/1417, r 27 provides that:

‘In application for first registration by a person who is unable to produce a full documentary title must be supported by evidence—

(a) to satisfy the registrar that the applicant is entitled to apply under section 3(2) of the Act or required to apply under section 6(1) of the Act, and

(b) where appropriate, to account for the absence of documentary evidence of

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