Property ownership


Property ownership is not based purely on legal ownership but also on equitable ownership. Some rights or interests are legal, other rights are equitable.

If you are buying a property and need a conveyancing solicitor, or if you are in dispute over who is the owner of a property, call us.

Rights over property

If a buyer borrows money to fund the purchase of land, the bank they borrowed the money from will take a mortgage on the property, which will give them rights over the estate if the borrower fails to repay the debt. This is a right over the property and will be listed on the charge register – but only on registered land.

Equitable interests occur frequently in property ownership of the matrimonial home. If one party has their name as the sole owner of the legal interest in the property, it does not necessarily mean that this person has the sole right to deal with the property.

Banks are now much more careful about loaning money on the basis of the named legal owner and will make enquiries into who has contributed money to the house.

In addition, a spouse can acquire an equitable interest not only by what they have contributed financially, but by what they have contributed by way of giving up their career to raise children, for example. How these interests are registered or discovered varies on registered and unregistered land.

Registered and unregistered land

When buying a property, the buyer must be sure that the seller is really entitled to sell the property. Therefore, the buyer must ask the seller to prove that their title to the land is good and that they have the right to dispose of the property. Title to the land is either registered or unregistered depending on which system applies to the property.

In the unregistered system of ownership of property, a property title is proved by the seller producing documents which show how they came to have the title. In order to show a good route of title:

  • The documents should go back at least fifteen years
  • When looking at the documents showing previous changes of hands, it is helpful if the land has at some point been sold for money
  • A conveyance for money is better than say, a change of hands because of inheritance, as a buyer would have investigated the property title, whereas a person inheriting the property would not

In the registered system the property title is registered with the land registry. In order to investigate title, the buyer will use the register to look at the seller’s right to sell the property and any third party rights registered on the property. The buyer must be careful of rights that aren’t on the register that they may not be aware of when they purchase the property.

If you are confused about property ownership and have parted with large sums of your savings, it is vital to seek the legal assistance of a property solicitor to ensure you do not suffer any financial loss.

Do you have a dispute concerning the ownership of a property or land? Contact Law can put you in touch with a property law expert, recommended by our clients for their successful results. Please call us on 0800 1777 162 or complete the web-form above and we will call you back.

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