Land Registration

Recorded Information and Protection Provided Varies by Jurisdiction.

Land registration generally describes systems by which matters concerning ownership, possession or other rights in land can be recorded (usually with a government agency or department) to provide evidence of title, facilitate transactions and to prevent unlawful disposal. The information recorded and the protection provided will vary by jurisdiction.

In common law countries, particularly in jurisdictions in the Commonwealth of Nations , when replacing the deeds registration system, title registrations are broadly classified into two basic types: the Torrens title system and the English system, a modified version of the Torrens system.

England and Wales

A national system of land registration was first attempted in England and Wales under the Land Registration Act 1862; a register having operated for the county of Middlesex (excluding the City of London) since 1709. This (voluntary) national system proved ineffective and, following further attempts in 1875 and 1897, the present system was brought into force by the Land Registration Act 1925.

Over time various areas of the country were designated areas of compulsory registration by order so in different parts of the country compulsory registration has been around longer than in others. The last order was made in 1990, so now virtually all transactions in land result in compulsory registration. One difference is land changing ownership after death, where land is gifted rather than sold; these became compulsorily registrable only in April 1998. Similarly it became compulsory to register land when a mortgage is created on it in 1998.

The Land Registration Act 2002 leaves the 1925 system substantially in place but enables the future compulsory introduction of electronic conveyancing using electronic signatures to transfer and register property.

The Land Registry is connected to the European Land Information Service EULIS.

Details of registrations are available to any person upon payment of the prescribed fee(s); precautionary measures have been introduced in recent years to verify the identity of persons attempting to change records of title. No details will be on record for any land which has not had a relevant transaction recorded as will often occur if e.g. ownership was last transferred before the introduction of compulsory registration in a particular area.

Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Land Registry administers the Land Registration Ordinance and provides facilities for search of the Land Register and related records by the public and government departments. It has responsibility for the registration of owners corporations under the Building Management Ordinance.


Land registration is not compulsory across all of Ireland, and two parallel registries are maintained: the Land Registry (Clárlann na Talún in Irish) and the Registry of Deeds (Clárlann na nGníomhas). Registration is compulsory in a number of the counties of Ireland for transaction of real property.

The system in Ireland follows the English system, but with features typical of the Torrens system (for example, anyone can inspect the register). Robert Torrens himself drafted the Record of Title (Ireland) Act, 1865 in order to record titles conveyed. The Landed Estates Court a register, the "Record of Title". While the record was not open to the public, the index could be inspected by anyone. Recording of title under the Act was voluntary and this was one of the reasons why the Act proved ineffective.

The Land Registry has been dealing with the registration of all transactions (purchase, sale, mortgage, remortgage and other burdens) concerning registered land since 1892, and issued land certificates which are a state guarantee of the registered owner's good title up to 1 January 2007. Land Certificates have been abolished by virtue of Section 23 of the Registration of Deeds and Title Act, 2006. Every piece of land in the register — which is arranged by county — is granted a folio number, under which all transactions pertaining to the land can be examined on request and after payment of a fee. Approximately 90% of land by area, and 85% of title, is registered.

The Registry of Deeds has since 1708 dealt with the registration of title deeds, mortgage documents and other documentation concerning unregistered land. Such documents are not retained by the registry, but rather one-page summaries (called "memorials") of conveyancing and mortgage documents are stamped and filed by the registrar. No certificates or guarantees of title are issued: the registry merely endeavours to provide information concerning the deeds lodged against a certain property — and, crucially, the order in which they were lodged — such as the last named owner or the latest mortgage to be lodged.

Both registries are managed by the Property Registration Authority and have offices in Dublin, Waterford and in Roscommon. Since independence, the registries have dealt with the land in the 26 counties of the Republic of Ireland (formerly the Irish Free State, 1922-37) only, the registers of land in Northern Ireland now being administered by the Land Registers of Northern Ireland.

The Property Registration Authority in Ireland is connected to the European Land Information Service EULIS.

Northern Ireland

Land registration in Northern Ireland is operated by Land and Property Services, an executive agency within the Department of Finance and Personnel for Northern Ireland. Prior to 1 Apr 2007 it was dealt with by the Land Registers Northern Ireland government agency.


Land registration commenced in Scotland with the creation of the Register of Sasines by the Registration Act 1617. The Land Registration (Scotland) Act 1979 introduced a new system which now records all changes of ownership of land and creation of new titles. The Registers of Scotland agency is responsible for maintaining both the Register of Sasines and the new register.

United States of America

Main article: Recording (real estate)

Land registration is a matter for individual states in the USA thus each state will define the officials, authorities and their functions and duties with respect to the ownership of land within that state as is more fully described in the specified main article.

See also

Legal Real Estate Books