Title Plans: updated Land Registry requirements

Title plans and new plans can pose particular challenges for conveyancers, as well as HM Land Registry itself, on an application for a dealing relating to a part of a title.

With that in mind, Land Registry has updated its guidance, Practice Guide 40, which includes a requirement that a plan with a disposition or application form must be signed for registered estates. The guidance is updated with the aim of providing clarity on the requirements that had previously been applied inconsistently.

The updated guidance follows a review of the requirements under rule 213 of the Land Registration Rules 2003 that a document dealing with part of the land in a registered title must, unless the part is clearly identified on the title plan, have attached to it “a plan identifying clearly the land dealt with”.

Land Registry’s aim is to clarify the requirements and also to bring consistency when raising requisitions of its customers. The guidance came into effect in mid-July. Practitioners need to note that deeds (transfers, deeds of grant of easements, etc) must be signed by the seller/grantor and applications are to be signed by the applicant – or the conveyancer doing the legal work on their behalf. The conveyancer must endorse the signature to that effect when doing so.

The risk of accepting an unsigned plan is that Land Registry could register a title or easement which could lead to a dispute – either between the parties and with Land Registry itself.

A precise plan is of course essential in many cases to ensure an accurate all-round description of the land in question. Land Registry acknowledges in its guidance that preparing plans for the purposes of registration can be tricky particularly in the case of unregistered land. Pre-registration deeds and plans are essential and play “a crucial role in resolving any future issues or questions regarding the extent of the land in a registered title”.

It is important that the land concerned is clearly identifiable on the Ordnance Survey map, but if there is non-compliance with the guidelines for preparing plans this will not, says Land Registry, be fatal to an application for registration if it can identify the land on the OS map.

The guidance explains why it is so important to submit good quality plans and covers applications for first registrations where, for instance, a verbal description may be adequate; and in the case of transfers or leases of part of a registered title where, in most cases, a plan showing the land being transferred or leased will be required. Sellers/landlords must sign the plan to the transfer/lease (or in the case of a company, by a person authorised by the officers to sign on its behalf).

General guidance

Conveyancing practitioners will welcome a reminder of Land Registry’s general and basic guidance for preparing plans for applications for registration. The revised guidance covers foundational issues including how to describe of the land to be registered; the base plan (usually OS mapping or a copy of an approved estate layout plan; how to obtain mapping from OS; using existing plans (which rarely conform to Land Registry guidelines); reference to old deed plans (as an additional plan may be requested – though interestingly, this does not have to be signed); plans reduced in scale and when such are acceptable; photocopies of pdf plans; and plans based on an official copy of the title plan.

As Land Registry acknowledges, it can be tricky providing a good quality plan for registration purposes but doing so can mean a fast service once the application is lodged for registration.

Recognising defects

The revised guidance is characterised by numerous examples of good, acceptable plans and those which are defective. It is also punctuated by various tables which practitioners can easily use as a useful checklist to ensure they are compliant with the guidelines.

One such table (see below) sets out a non-exhaustive list of typical deed plan defects covering most eventualities which could lead to the rejection of an application for registration. Again, examples are included to illustrate and explain types of deed plan defect.

Where the deed refers to a plan but it is not attached.
Plans that have not been signed by the seller/landlord.
Plans where the scale used makes the extent of the land or easements uncertain.
Plans that have been reduced from their original scale but that still bear the original scale endorsement (unless a bar scale has been used).
Plans marked as “for identification only” or similar wording may be rejected. Unless the plan can be accurately related to the OS map and any description in the deed is not at variance with either the OS map or the plan.
Plans where a colouring or marking referred to has been omitted from the plan
Plans where the extent of any easements is unclear. See example 7
Plans where we cannot locate the land with any degree of confidence. See examples 7 and 8
Plans that cannot be orientated to align with the Ordnance Survey Map. See examples 7 and 9
Plans that have not been drawn to scale. See examples 7 and 9.
Plans with edgings of a thickness that obscures any other detail or that makes the extent any way ambiguous. See example 8
Plans where the extent is undefined or is unclear. See example 9
Hand drawn sketches. See example 9

Source: HM Land Registry Guidance for preparing plans for Land Registry applications (19 August 2019)

Land Registry makes clear that where the deed plan is not sufficient to allow clear identification of the land it may ask for an additional plan to be lodged which would need to be signed by the applicant.



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