UK: The Importance of Keeping Addresses for Service Up to Date as Land and Charge Certificates are Abolished

Last Updated: 29 August 2003

Historically, little attention has been paid to keeping addresses for service up to date at the Land Registry because on any dealing a land or charge certificate must be produced and the landowner or lender has retained control over these documents.

All this will change on 13 October when the Land Registration Act 2002 comes into force. Under the Act land and charge certificates are abolished and will not need to be produced with an application to register a dealing with land. This important change, together with other changes in the law introduced by the Act, will mean that keeping addresses for service up to date at the Land Registry will be vital to ensure that interests are protected from cancellation by default. The following paragraphs highlight some important issues:

  • Squatters and adverse possession

From 13 October, a person who has been in adverse possession of land for at least 10 years can apply to the land registrar to be registered as the proprietor of the land in place of the landowner. The registrar is obliged to give written notice to the landowner as well as to any tenant or mortgagee. The notice will be sent to all addresses for service shown on the register. The time limit for objecting to the application is a mere 65 business days (broadly 3 months) and failing the receipt of any counter notice the applicant will be entitled to be registered as proprietor. There is no right of appeal in these circumstances.

  • Fixed Boundaries

From 13 October, as under the current law, most boundaries shown on Land Registry plans will remain "general" and will not be conclusive. However, under the new legislation, a landowner will be able to apply for the exact boundary line to be determined, by supplying evidence to establish that the boundary is in the position shown. Here again, the registrar is obliged to serve notice of the application on all adjoining owners, giving them only 20 business days to object to the application. If the registrar receives no objections he must then complete the application which may result in the owner of neighbouring land losing title to part of his land.

  • Notices

From 13 October, anyone may apply to register particular types of notice against the registered title to property, in order to protect their own interests. The application may be submitted without the landowner's consent. The applicant is not required to satisfy the registrar that his claim is valid and does not need to support his claim with any evidence. The landowner will be notified about the notice once it has been registered. He will then have an opportunity to apply for the cancellation of the notice.

  • Exempt Information Documents

Subject to transitional arrangements, from 13 October anyone will be able to apply for a copy of any document filed at the Land Registry. This will not apply where a party has had a document designated an exempt information document on the basis that it contains prejudicial information. Nonetheless, a person can apply to the registrar for a full copy of an exempt information document giving grounds as to why he should be entitled to have it. The registrar will normally serve notice on the person who applied to designate the document as exempt to give him the opportunity of making representations against publication.

  • Additional addresses for service permitted

To facilitate the substantive changes, the Land Registry will allow up to 3 addresses for service to be entered on the register, at least one of which must be a postal address. A UK Document Exchange address can be given as well as an e-mail address. Postal addresses will no longer need to be within the UK but it must be noted that the Land Registry will not allow any extra time for the recipient to deal with any notice sent abroad.

  • Changing addresses for service

It will be important to establish internal procedures to ensure that whenever there is a change in the address for service (including when an e-mail address may change as a result of changing the service provider) that an application is made to the Land Registry in the appropriate form. To encourage the notification process there is no fee for changing, removing or adding an address for service. A failure to provide the correct address for service in the initial application for registration and to keep the address for service up to date could cause registered proprietors to suffer loss, as referred to above.

  • Not just the registered proprietor should be concerned about an address for service

It is not only the landowner who needs to be concerned about keeping an address for service up to date. A person who has lodged a notice to protect an interest, a person who has lodged a caution against first registration of title, a person such as a tenant or mortgagee who is entitled to be notified of an application for adverse possession, or a person whose consent to a dealing is required by a restriction on the register, all need to ensure that their addresses for service are up to date.

  • Action Required

Owners of property portfolios should ensure that a full and up to date list of all title numbers is prepared and maintained, including details of the relevant Land Registry offices to whom notifications of change of address should be sent. We can assist in the preparation of such a list.

Consideration should also be given to any additional addresses for service to be notified to the Land Registry. Managing agents' addresses may, for example, be included to assist in the management of an extensive portfolio.

By Martin Dawbney and Christopher Harrison

© Herbert Smith 2003

The content of this article does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. Specific advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

For more information on this or other Herbert Smith publications, please email us.

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