In total there are 21 registers of land and property ownership in Scotland which are held by Registers of Scotland, an organisation which is accountable to the Scottish Parliament. The two main records relevant to residential properties are: –
- The Sasine Register; and
- The Land Register of Scotland.
The Land Register of Scotland was introduced in 1981 and is a more modern, map-based record of land ownership. Every property in the Land Register is allocated a unique title number and a plan (based on the ordnance survey records) is included to show the boundaries of the property. All relevant information is included within the one document known as the title sheet which is retained electronically and can be downloaded for a small fee. It is quick and easy to identify the legal owner of a property in the Land Register. A property registered in the Land Register will normally also benefit from a state backed guarantee.
If you have lived in your property for a long time it is possible that your title will be in the Sasine Register which dates back to 1617 and is a register of deeds. You will likely need to examine several deeds to get a full picture of the property and the conditions which attach to it. These can be very old and difficult to read and they can be lost over time. Often the plans attached to these old deeds, if any, lack sufficient detail to properly identify boundaries. It is more difficult and more expensive to identify the owner of a property in the Sasine Register.
If you want to sell or transfer a property in the Sasine Register it will result in the property being moved to the Land Register but before this can be done additional checks need to be carried out. A plans report will likely be required (unless the property is a flat). Depending on the results of that, a new deed plan may be required and in some instances a title issue may be identified and corrective conveyancing may be necessary. If any relevant deeds are missing then copies need to be obtained. Only once all of these additional checks have been completed can the transaction be finalised, ownership transferred and an application submitted, usually via a solicitor, for the property to be moved to the Land Register. It may take some time for Registers of Scotland to complete this process at which point a title sheet will be created with an associated plan. Thereafter any future sale or transfer of the property will be quicker and easier.
Registers of Scotland have been set a target to complete the Land Register by 2024 meaning all Sasine property should have been moved over to the Land Register. One way in which progress is being made towards this target is by encouraging land owners to voluntarily transfer their property over and there are discounted registration fees payable for these types of transfers.
If you don’t know which register your property is in or you would like advice on voluntary registration please contact a member of the Blackadders Residential Conveyancing Team working in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Perth and across Scotland.