Land Registration Act 2002 Overview
Posted on 19th August 2020 at 11:01
The Land Registration Act 2002 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which repealed and replaced previous legislation governing land registration, in particular the Land Registration Act 1925, which governed an earlier, though similar, system. The Act, together with the Land Registration Rules, regulates the role and practice of HM Land Registry.
Background Of the Land Registration Act 2002
The Land Registration Act 2002 was introduced in response to the Law Commission and HM Land Registry report, Land Registration for the Twenty-first Century (2001).
Simplified and modernised the law of land registration;
Made the register reflect a more accurate picture of a title to land, showing more fully the rights and subsidiary interests that affect it; and
Was intended to facilitate the introduction of e-conveyancing.
The Act made some major changes to the law regulating registered land. Specifically, it:
Enabled shorter leases to be registered;
Further encouraged voluntary land registration;
Changed the system of protection of third party rights; and
Reformed and modernised the law of adverse possession (squatters' rights).
Repealed the Land Transfer Act 1875
Repealed the Land Registration Act 1925
Section 4 stipulates that registration of an estate in land is compulsory when one of the following events occurs:
Freehold estate is transferred, whether under a sale, gift or other circumstances;
Legal lease for more than seven years is granted;
Legal lease with more than seven years to run is transferred; or
Grant of a first legal charge (mortgage).
Failure to register when required, means that the purchaser or transferee gains only an equitable title to the land and the seller or transferor remains as the registered proprietor. A person with an equitable title, i.e. who has failed to register, cannot take advantage of the priority rules found in sections 29 and 30 of the Act and may be vulnerable if the (still) registered proprietor attempts another dealing with the land.
Grades of title
On first registration, the registrar awards a grade of title to each registered estate.
In the case of freehold estates, one of the following grades of title may be awarded according to section. 11 of the Act:
Absolute title – This shows there is nothing dubious about the title. The estate is vested in the proprietor and is subject only to entries on the register and unregistered interests which override (commonly called an overriding interest). Title does not have to be perfect – if the registrar believes that any defect will "not cause the holding under the title to be disturbed", absolute title will be given – section.9(3) LRA.
Possessory freehold title – there is no documentary evidence of title (e.g. lost title deeds). Title depends on adverse possession. It conveys no guarantee of title at the time of registration, but subsequent problems (e.g. forgery of proprietor's signature) will be covered by the guarantee. It can be upgraded into absolute title after being in possession as proprietor for 12 years.
Qualified freehold title – the title is subject to a fundamental defect. There is no guarantee in respect of the specified defect. It may be upgraded to absolute title if registrar is satisfied as to the title – section.62 LRA.
In the case of leasehold estates, one of the following grades of title may be awarded according to section. 12 of the Act:
Absolute leasehold title – same as absolute freehold except the proprietor is also subject to covenants in the lease
Good leasehold title – same as absolute leasehold except the right of the landlord to grant the lease is not guaranteed
Possessory leasehold title – same as possessory freehold
Qualified leasehold title – same as qualified freehold
Dispositions subject to registration according to s. 27 are:
any transfer of a freehold, whether for value or by way of gift or on death
the grant of a legal lease for more than seven years
the grant of a legal lease taking effect in possession in three or more months from grant
the grant of a legal charge (a mortgage)
the express grant of legal easement
According to s. 27(1): "If a disposition is required to be completed by registration it does not operate at law until the relevant requirements are met."
According to section. 29 of the Act, a person acquiring an interest under a registrable disposition for valuable consideration (being usually a freehold or leasehold, but also including a legal mortgage) and having been registered successfully as owner of the interest, takes it subject to only:
an entry on the register, mainly a Notice in the charges register
unregistered interests which override (overriding interests)
interests excepted from the effects of registration (a category now otiose)
and if the estate is a lease, to burdens incidental to the lease
All other interests are postponed to the interest under the disposition – i.e. the successfully registered purchaser's interest gets priority over all other interests.
Note: if the transferee is not a purchaser (such as the recipient of a gift, or under a will), he or she takes the title subject to all pre-existing proprietary interests affecting the land
A restriction on the proprietorship register prevents the registration of a disposition unless complied with.
This is the appropriate way of alerting a purchaser of the existence of an equitable family interest which arises under a trust of land. A restriction does not protect the priority of that interest, nor any right of occupation – it notifies the purchaser of the interest. In any event, in the normal case, the purchaser will overreach and in such cases it is immaterial whether the purchaser knows of the equitable family interest or not. (Law of Property Act 1925; Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996)
Restrictions are also useful to control dealings with the land as a secondary means of protection. For example, a person with an option to purchase land (e.g. a developer) should protect that interest by means of a Notice. However, they may also enter a restriction to prevent, or to be alerted to, any attempt to transfer the land in breach of the option.
According to section. 32 of the Act: "A notice is an entry on the [charges] register in respect of a burden of an interest affecting a registered estate or charge."
According to section. 33, the following interests cannot be protected by a notice:
the interest of a beneficiary under a trust of land
a lease granted for less than three years
restrictive covenants in a lease
and certain other minor property rights.
In all cases, these interests are protected against a purchaser by other means.
According to section. 34, all other interests may be protected by a notice. Examples include:
freehold restrictive covenants
estate contracts, including options to purchase and rights of pre-emption.
Wikipedia. (2002). Land Registration Act 2002. Available: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land_Registration_Act_2002. Last accessed 19 August 2020.
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