“Don’t wait to buy land, buy land and wait” (Will Rogers)
If you plan to buy property this Festive Season – perhaps your new dream house, or a holiday home, or an office for your business, or purely as an investment – check the title deed of the property you have your eye on before you sign anything.
Why is that so important?
Firstly, what exactly is a title deed and why check it?
In a nutshell, a “Title Deed” (also called a “Deed of Transfer” – they’re the same thing) is proof of who owns a particular property. It’s issued by the local Deeds Office after a conveyancing attorney has registered transfer to a new owner.
The title deed is a mine of crucial information relating to the property, its history, and conditions attaching to it. So check it thoroughly, it’s well worth the effort –
The reality is that our courts regularly have to deal with disputes arising from title deed conditions of which the buyer was blissfully unaware – until it was too late. And it’s no use crying “but I had no idea I was buying a property with a zoning restriction/height restriction/right-of-way servitude”. Because the property register kept by the Deeds Office is open to the public, everyone, including you, is presumed to have notice of registered rights like those.
You can get a copy of the title deed direct from the Deeds Office or online, but it will be easier to ask the seller (estate agent if applicable) or your lawyer for one.
So what should you look for before buying?
Look for the following in particular –
Check that everything in the title deed ties in with the offer you are being asked to sign. And that you are happy with all obligations and restrictions on your use of the property.
Most importantly, even the simplest title deed can be full of legalese and pitfalls for the unwary. So as always, ask your lawyer for help before you sign anything!
Jack Crook, Director at DotNews, is well known to law firms as the author of LawDotNews since 2005. Jack’s legal qualifications (LLB Lond and LLB Rhod) are supplemented by many years of practical experience in law, in marketing his own firm, and in helping other small and medium sized professional firms to prosper by using simple, low-cost, effective marketing strategies.
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