How to Find Out Who Owns a Property in the UK
How to find out who owns a property in the UK is easier than you might think. With a few simple steps, you can uncover the legal owner of any residential or commercial property.
Knowing how to find property ownership information is useful for various reasons. You may be interested in a particular property and want to contact the owner. Or you may need to identify property ownership for legal proceedings.
Whatever your reasons, this guide will walk you through the process step-by-step. We’ll cover:
- Looking up Land Registry records
- Searching for title deeds
- Checking public databases
- Using property portals
- Hiring a property ownership search company
- Understanding property ownership structures
Plus additional tips to pinpoint current and past owners.
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Check The Land Registry
The Land Registry holds records on most property ownership in England and Wales. Their register lists the current legal owner and a history of previous owners.
You can access the Land Registry in three ways:
1. Official Copy of The Register
This provides an official copy of the property’s full register. It contains:
- Current owner details
- Purchase price and date
- Full ownership history
- Mortgages and charges
- Plan of the property
- Other legal notices
To get a copy, you’ll need:
- The property’s address
- Title number (optional but helpful)
Search for the title number on the Land Registry website. Then order an official copy, which costs £3 if you know the number. Requesting a copy without the title number costs £3 plus an extra £3 if the registry locates the property.
An official copy is typically delivered within 5 working days. It provides conclusive proof of legal ownership.
2. Title Plan and Register View
For a simpler overview, you can get the Title Plan and Register View for £3. This shows:
- Current owner
- Purchase details
- Plan of the property
But it excludes the full ownership history.
3. Who Owns What
This free Land Registry service lets you search by address to find basic ownership details.
It displays the current owner’s name, general location (e.g. Plymouth), plus the title number.
However, it doesn’t show specific addresses, sale prices, mortgage info, or previous owners. So treat it as a starting point to get the Title number.
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Search for Title Deeds
Title deeds document a property’s ownership history. The current owner’s deed will display their name and address.
Many homes built before the 1990s won’t have deeds officially registered with the Land Registry. So the deeds may provide more ownership details.
Start by asking the current owner if they have the original title deeds. If not, searching for the deeds takes more effort. Here’s how:
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Check with Mortgage Lenders
The mortgage lender often retains the deeds until the home loan is paid off.
So check if there’s an outstanding mortgage on the property by ordering a Title Register or Title Plan from the Land Registry. This will list any active lenders.
Then contact the lender to request a copy of the deeds. They may provide them if you have a legitimate interest in the property.
Look for Lost Deeds
For older properties, the deeds could be archived or misplaced. There are services that can search for lost deeds, such as:
- Title Research – Charges £200 plus VAT
- John Charcol – Fees start around £180
The cost covers time spent hunting through archives. There’s no guarantee they’ll locate the deeds.
Seller May Have Old Deeds
If the property was sold in the last few decades, the previous owner may still have the original deeds.
The solicitor who handled the sale could help you identify and contact the seller. Some may pass your request on for data protection reasons.
Check Public Records
Government and council databases can provide extra details about a property’s ownership.
This shows who’s registered to vote at an address. Search by postcode to find names of current occupants.
The electoral register is public, but you’ll need to visit your local council office and show ID. Alternatively, credit agencies hold electoral roll data like 192.com and CreditSafe.
Council Tax Records
The council holds records of who pays council tax on each property. Similar to the electoral roll, this indicates current residents.
View council tax records at your local council office or request info by phone/email if you have a valid reason.
Planning and Building Records
For newer properties, planning and building records reveal who developed land and constructed homes.
These public records are held by the local authority. You can request searches for a fee of around £150.
Check Property Websites
Commercial property portals like Zoopla and Rightmove provide some ownership details.
Listing Agent Contact
Listings for properties for sale show the name of the estate agent. You can contact the agent to find out who they represent.
Land Registry Link
Listings also include a link to the Land Registry, providing quick access to the Title Register.
Look for sold listings archived on Zoopla and Rightmove. The listing agent may be named, along with a sale price and date.
This can help you piece together more of the property’s ownership history.
How to Find Out Who Owns a Property: Use a Professional Search Service
For more comprehensive searches, you can hire a professional ownership search company. Some key firms include:
- UK Search Office – Charges around £100 for a full owner search.
- Trace IQ – Standard pricing starts at £45 plus VAT.
- Find UK People – Typical fees range from £60-£90 for an online search.
These companies access various private and public ownership records. Their searches can uncover current owners plus provide historical ownership details.
The exact fees and extent of information varies between providers. So compare several quotes for the best value comprehensive search.
Understand Ownership Structures
While the Land Registry lists the legal owner, keep in mind properties can have complex underlying ownership structures.
Some possibilities include:
Owned jointly by multiple partners, such as a married couple. The Land Registry only shows one name but multiple people may have a legal stake.
The property is owned by trustees on behalf of beneficiaries. The trustees appear on Land Registry records as the legal owners.
The company name will appear on the register. You’ll need to search Companies House records to identify the company directors and shareholders.
Foreign individuals or companies may own UK properties. The register will show non-UK addresses.
Doing your ownership research can uncover if the named legal owner is part of a more complex ownership arrangement.
How to Find Out Who Owns a Property: Tips for the Owners
Use these additional pointers for zeroing in on property ownership details:
- Know both owner names for jointly owned properties – records may only list one owner.
- Search previous addresses of the owner to turn up connections to other properties.
- Look for power of attorney records if an owner is listed as deceased – ownership may have transferred to an executor.
- Check bankruptcy records for indicators of ownership changes.
- Cross-reference across sources like the electoral roll, Land Registry, and HMRC for consistent names and addresses.
- Search variations of the owner’s name – records may include middle names, name changes, or initials only.
- Look into surrounding properties – owners sometimes acquire multiple adjacent parcels of land/property over time.
With the right techniques, you can uncover current and historic details on property owners across the UK. Consulting official Land Registry documents provides definitive proof of legal ownership.
This guide should give you the knowledge to perform your own ownership searches. However, for in-depth professional assistance, you can always utilise a specialist ownership search company. Their expertise and access to various records can fast track the search process.
So whether you need to satisfy curiosity over a property, resolve an ownership dispute, or inform legal action, discovering who owns a property is perfectly feasible with a step-by-step approach.
How to Find Out Who Owns a Property: Conclusion
In summarising how to ascertain property ownership in the UK, it’s evident that precision and expertise play crucial roles. While the methods outlined offer a robust framework, complex cases often require specialised insight. This is where AVRillo’s focused conveyancing expertise becomes invaluable.
AVRillo distinguishes itself with a specialisation akin to a medical heart specialist, providing depth in conveyancing unmatched by general solicitors. Their ethos of prioritising people over profit ensures clients receive dedicated, transparent service, a philosophy crucial in navigating property ownership intricacies.
With a 95% success rate, significantly higher than the average, AVRillo excels in delivering results where others might falter. Their approach of merging efficiency with caution, and proactive risk management, means clients receive thorough and swift resolutions to their conveyancing needs. The firm’s transparent pricing and commitment to quality over cost resonate particularly well for those delving into property ownership matters.