How to trace the owner of a piece of land or property
There are many occasions where tracing the owner of a building or property is required from finding who is responsible for a derelict building to attempting to purchase a building or a piece of land. There are some straightforward searches one can complete to obtain some basic information to enable contact but to enhance the search with current contact information such as a current address (not the one registered with land registry which may be old or uncontactable) or a contact landline or mobile telephone number one would need to use a professional tracing agent to trace the property owner / landowner.
We will now run through the 3 steps to locate the owner of a piece of land or a property in the UK.
1. Land registry search
Over 85% of the land and property in the UK is registered with HM Land Registry. Much of the land owned by the Crown, the aristocracy, and the Church has not been registered, because it has never been sold, which is one of the main triggers for compulsory registration. In England and Wales, all land is owned by somebody, even if the legal owner can’t be identified. For example, if a person dies without a Will or blood relatives, their land or property can pass to the crown by law (referred to as Bona Vacantia).
HM Land Registry holds records about most property or land sold in England or Wales since 1993. This can be a fast route to obtaining the current owner details or at least obtaining the name details to enable a tracing agent to locate the details of the property owner.
Land registry searches can be requested here
Official copies can be requested by post here
HM Land Registry
PO Box 74
The current fees at 2019 are as follows
Title register (online copy) £3
Title plan (online copy) £2.50 (£3 with VAT)
Flood risk indicator (online copy) £9 (£10.80 with VAT)
Title register (official copy) £7
Title plan (official copy) £7
2. If the land or property is not registered with Land registry
If your search of land registry is not showing any details it may be that the land or property is unregistered with no official title deeds but you still need to find the owner of the property
The next steps in being able to obtain the current owners details or at least a clue to their old contact details and a name to enable step 3 if Land registry does not retain the details of the property owner as the land is unregistered / land is not registered as a property in England and Wales.
The next steps to discover property ownership details
· ask neighbours if they know who the owner(s) might be
· ask local residents if they have any ideas about who might own it
· ask in the local pub, postal office or local shops
· check adjoining registered properties for clues, they may refer to a deed or document which affected not only that registered title but also ‘other land’. The other land may have included the unregistered part and the deed/document will refer to the parties to the deed, which may give a clue as to the owner on a specific date;
· search county or local authority records for
· check with the local authority to see if any planning applications have been submitted over the years. By law, applicants currently have to sign either a Certificate A to say they are the owner or Certificate B where they say they have served notice on the owner who they have to name
· check your local electoral register.
3. Use a tracing agent to obtain the current property owners details
Once you have obtained the name of the owner of the property this is where a tracing agent is the next crucial stage to obtain the correct current details to enable contact. The tracing agent with the name and old address of the subject or the piece of land address associated with the property owner will be able to locate the current owners details including contact telephone numbers in a matter of hours and on a no find no fee basis.