Whenever a disposition affecting the land in a title occurs, such as a sale or mortgage, the title register is updated by the Land Registry. Entries relating to previous ownerships and charges are removed and the new ownership and charge details are recorded.
Prior editions of the Title Register (and Title Plan) are available from the Land Registry, and are known as History Searches.
History searches are useful for:
- Family History work
- New home owners wanting to check the property's history
- Customers wishing to contact prior owners
- Customers involved in a dispute with regard to entries that appeared in an older edition of the register
- Customers needing to prove they once owned a particular property but no longer do so
Digitising of Title Registers
The Land Registry began retaining copies of older editions of the title register at the end of April 1993 when they began keeping digital records. These copies are not available online and are dealt with using the postal service. They are referred to as Historical Editions of the Register.
The historical edition will show details of ownership on the date that you have asked for. Any prior or subsequent dispositions will not be shown and so to obtain a full history it is often necessary to obtain several History Searches.
Although older editions of the title register are not available prior to April 1993 it may be possible to obtain the information you require by obtaining copies of various deeds and documents from the Land Registry. Some of these Deeds can be obtained online and some need to be obtained using the postal service.
Some deeds, particularly conveyances and transfers, contain the type of information most people looking into the history of a property would be interested in.
For example, a conveyance or transfer would contain:
- Name and address of the purchasers
- Name and address of the persons selling the property to them
- Detailed description of the property address, which may include land measurements, hectarage, precise location and boundaries
- Purchase price
- Name and address of purchaser's solicitors
- Easements, covenants, agreements, exceptions, reservations and restrictions
- Name, address and occupation of witnesses to the deed
- Sometimes, a plan or drawing illustrating borders, rights of way, etc.
Specific Date for a Search
To obtain a history search it is necessary to provide an exact date for the search, as the title register may be updated many times after it is registered and also during a single ownership, and a separate fee will be required for each date searched. Care should be taken to ensure that a second search is not made for a date during the period of ownership for which the first search was obtained (unless you are searching to check for changed entries during an ownership, e.g. following a new mortgage).
Where a person wishes to search back as far as he can it is always best to do this in separate steps, as follows:
- (a) Obtain a copy of the current title register.
- (b) Look in the A section of the current title register to check the first date in brackets. If this date is the same as the first date in brackets in the B section this means that the current ownership began with the first registration of the property, in which case there will obviously be no prior copies of the title register. The date in the A section is the earliest date that you will be able to obtain a History Search (but you cannot go further back than 1993).
- (c) Look in the B section of the current title register for the first date in brackets, which is the date of registration of the current owner.
- (d) Apply for a history search for a date just before the date you noted in the current register (step (b)).
- (e) When you receive the history search, again look for the date of registration in the B section.
- (f) Apply for a history search using a date just prior to this date.
- (g) Repeat for as far back as you wish to go (but not prior to April 1993).
- (h) If you still need to go back further than April 1993 you should use our Deed Search, looking for a copy of Transfers and Conveyances.
Be aware that the current ownership may have began with the first registration of the property, in which case.
Prior Title Plans
For various reasons it may be desired to obtain an historical edition of the title plan. This may occur, for example, where the Title Plan has been updated by the Land Registry following updates by Ordnance Survey (the Title Plan is based on the Ordnance Survey Map). You may wish to check the validity of the updated plan by obtaining a copy of the prior title plan.
Specific reasons for obtaining prior editions of the Title Plan are:
- Where a parcel of land in an ownership has been sold off separately, to check the prior extent of the property owned.
- Where you think an updated title plan has been shown incorrectly.
- Where there is a boundary dispute and you believe the boundaries where shown differently in older versions of the title plan.
- Where there is a rights of way dispute and you believe the rights of way where shown differently in older versions of the title plan.
- Where a footpath through your (or adjoining) property has been diverted or stopped, and you wish to see its prior route.