Land Registration: General


Categories of interest:

1) Registered (these are registered)

2) Protected ('minor') (these are protected)

3) Overriding (these are effective without entry on the register)

Note: The system guarantees that registered interests exist, whereas there is no such guarantee for minor interests.

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Registered interests

Section 27 lists interests which have to be registered.  Section 29 adds that short leases enjoy the benefit of registration.  

A registered interest is guaranteed and so enjoys enhanced priority status: Section 29. Only defeated by another interest if that interest is overriding or protected.

There can be more than one registered title in relation to the same plot of land: a freehold title and a leasehold title.

Fee simple and leases exceeding 7 years have to be registered. Also: Express legal easements, certain other types of leases, and charges.


  • Some pre-2002 leases are not registered because registration was not compulsory at the time when they were granted. If such leases are assigned today they must be registered within two months, providied that more than seven years are left at the time of the assignment (LRA s4(1)(a)(2)).
  • If the relevant freehold is already registered then the purchaser or tenant will obtain a legal estate only on the registration of the transfer or lease (LRA Section 27).
  • Note how this ties in with equitable interests (estate contract) and the position of a donee in this situation.
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First registration

·      If the freehold is not registered, then the ‘first registration’ rules* apply. The new fee simple owner or tenant has two months in which to register ie. registration required only after the freehold has been acquired. *First registration rules:

 What happens if a person believes that she might be prejudiced by a future registration? Entry of a land charge (where available) will ensure that the protected interest is discovered on first registration and then entered on the register.  For other rights, it’s po**ible to enter a caution against first registration (uncommon) (not po**ible for the person claiming the fee simple or lease to do this).

 - Compulsory registration: LRA ** 4-8 provide for registration of the fee simple within two months of a conveyance, a first legal mortgage, or an a**ent by personal representatives.

 - Note ‘triggers’ in Section 5.

 - Failure to register within two months carries only a limited penalty, namely lo** of legal estate (Section 7). Transferee retains equitable interest in land and, because he has the title deeds, it is unlikely that the lo** of the legal title will have much detrimental effect

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Things to note RE leases

7-year requirement, but, exceptionally, two types of shorter lease must be registered:

  •  Discontinuous leases (such as a lease for the first week in May for the next four years)
  • Future leases (leases taking effect in more than three months’ time) – Note: Not merely a contract for a lease. Leases may commence in up to 21 years’ time (LPA 143).
  • LRA 2002 S27(2)(b)(ii) and (iii). Note: There is no compulsory first registration (ie. Where landlord is not registered) of discontinuous leases (or, it seems, leases like future leases but where the period is less than three months.)

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Registered charges

Unlike fees simple and leases, charges (mortgages) do not have their own titles. They can be entered only on an existing registered title (LRA 59(2)). Follows that a mortgage of unregistered land cannot be registered.

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Easements and profits

Like charges, easements do not have own separate titles. If registered, must be entered on title of land benefitted by the easement and a notice entered on the title of the servient land. Compulsory registration operates only when there is an express grant. Notice may be placed on register to protect exempted easements. Furthermore, registrar can enter notice on register if he is aware of them and there is provision for requiring those seeking registration of transfers and leases to provide information to registrar.

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Forms of registered titles

Most are absolute (if registrar believes that any defect ‘will not cause the holding under the title to be disturbed’ – S9(3)). If there is a specific problem (perhaps deed has been lost) then there may be registration with qualified title (9(4), (6)). Means there is no guarantee in respect of the specified defect. Otherwise, same as absolute title.

 Possessory titles (9(5),(7)) arise in cases where documentary title cannot be proved and title depends on adverse possession. Confers no guarantee of title at the time of registration. However, subsequent problems such as forgery of the newly registered proprietor’s signature on transfer, will be covered by the guarantee. Possessory titles may be upgraded into absolute titles and there is normally entitlement to conversion after being in possession as proprietor for 12 years.

 S11(4) – Where there first registration with absolute title, the estate is vested in the proprietor subject only to interests protected on the register and the overriding interests.

 Two further exceptions to the protection of absolute titles:

  •  Where proprietor is a trustee, beneficiaries’ interest binds proprietor if he has notice of them (11(5))
  •  Adverse possession claims will bind a first proprietor who has notice of them.
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