Ever passed by a charming house and wondered who owns it? You’re not alone. The good news is that you don’t need an insider connection to find out. Whether you’re thinking of buying a home and want to know who owns it or are just curious, here’s your comprehensive guide to uncovering property ownership in the UK.
Why might you want to know who owns a certain property?
There are various motivations for wanting to identify the owner of a property. One is having an interest in buying the home, as knowing its ownership history can be helpful when considering making an offer because you’ll have a better idea of the price.
For those keen on local development projects, understanding who owns a particular piece of land or property may offer insights into historical sale prices, which is beneficial for housing developers. Then there’s just plain curiosity – you might stumble upon an intriguing or abandoned property and wish to look into its past.
Regardless of the reason, once you’ve decided that you want to uncover ownership details, the next step involves formally requesting the information. This usually involves a straightforward process – often accessible for a nominal fee – that can provide a wealth of data to satisfy your enquiry.
How do I find the owner of a property?
There is more than one way to find out the owner of a property, meaning you’ve got a few avenues available to you. Let’s take a look at the best ways to find an owner of a property in the UK
Use the Land Registry
If you’re interested in finding out who owns a particular property, the UK Land Registry is your go-to resource. This non-ministerial department of the UK government maintains a comprehensive database of land and property ownership in England and Wales, covering over 26 million title records.
To initiate a search, visit the GOV.UK website and conduct a title deeds search. HM Land Registry holds records for most properties sold in England or Wales since 1993, including details like the title register, title plan, title summary and flood risk indicator.
You can view these records online and download them for a small fee, which costs £3 for a title summary. The title register offers a downloadable format that includes essential details such as:
- The title number
- Purchase price
- Rights of way
- Mortgage status.
The title summary and title plan provide additional information, including whether the property is freehold or leasehold and its general boundaries. A flood risk indicator is also available, combining data from the Environment Agency and HM Land Registry to assess flood risk.
To access this information, you’ll need to create an account using a valid email address and payment method. Once set up, you can search by postcode and house number or name. A new basic search service has also been introduced, allowing users to enter a postcode and access key ownership details for a fee of just £3.
If you don’t know the postcode, a street address will suffice, but you’ll still need to create an account and make a payment.
Gain access to local records
What if the property you’re interested in isn’t registered on the Land Registry? Don’t worry because there are alternative methods. “Accessing the ownership of unregistered land or property can be a bit tricky, but it’s not an insurmountable challenge.
While over 88% of land and property in England and Wales is registered, you might still encounter unregistered properties. If you do, your initial step should be to consult with local residents. You’d be amazed at the wealth of property-related information that long-time locals can offer.
If that doesn’t yield results, your next move should be to look into local authority records. Check if any planning applications have been submitted by reaching out to the County Record Offices. By law, applicants must sign either a Certificate A, confirming they are the owner, or a Certificate B, stating they’ve notified the owner. The electoral register can also be a useful resource for identifying previous owners.
For unregistered land, consider examining the records of nearby registered properties, as they may offer hints about the land’s ownership. These local avenues often provide valuable insights into the ownership of unregistered properties.
Use a tracing agent
There is also the option of hiring a tracing agent to gather the information on your behalf. These experts have special access to online databases that aren’t available to the general public, enabling them to obtain details about the property owner. The typical cost for employing a tracing agent is approximately £35.
Flood risk indicator
Certain regions are more susceptible to flooding, making a flood risk assessment crucial for informed decision-making about the property’s value. Although HM Land Registry stopped providing this data in mid-2021, you can still obtain area-specific flood risk information through a simple postcode search on the government website. Note that this will give you an overview of the flood risk for the area, not for individual properties.
A slightly left-field check here, but you can go to Companies House and check the owner of an address. It will only give you the desired results if their home is also used as a business address, but it can be a potential avenue for finding out the owner of a property.
How much does it cost to find out?
Determining the ownership of a property isn’t free, but the associated fees are relatively low. The charges for various types of information are as follows:
- £3.00 for a copy of the title register, which provides property details.
- £3.00 for a title plan, outlining the property’s layout.
- £35 for a tracing agent
Regarding the Land Registry, payment for these fees is required online and can be made using a credit or debit card.
Summary: Finders keepers
Armed with the knowledge from the HM Land Registry and other resources, you’re not just a potential buyer but an informed one. If you’re also considering selling your current home quickly, Property Rescue is your go-to solution. We offer quick, efficient home sales at zero cost to you.