Legal title guarantees a buyer that a property belongs to him and no one else. There is nothing as important having a property in your own name. The UK property market has experienced a lot of feuds that arise from unclear ownership rights. A buyer will never know when his chosen property will be subjected to ownership disputes until after he pays for the property. The very first duty of a buyer during conveyance is establishing legal title of a property beyond any reasonable doubt. The buyer can then rest assured that the property he is buying is owned by the seller and has rights to sell it. After the conveyancing completes, he can rest assured the property will be under his control.
Solicitors are responsible for conducting ownership research. However, there are cryptic home ownership details that even solicitors find difficult to uncover. Most of these pieces of information cannot even be found in Land Registry records where solicitors do most of their property ownership research. These pieces of information could be private agreements that a previous owner of the property had with a neighbour or a relative and are now affecting new owners.
Importance of establishing legal title ownership
The importance can not be stressed enough during a property transaction. The rights of the property reside with the owner of the property. He has to prove the legal title deed is in their name. To sell it without disputes he must show the verification documents. This will ensure smooth conveyancing for both buyer and the seller. Solicitors will be able to verify legal ownership and root out fake or misleading documents for establishing legal title.
Disputes eliminated by establishing legal title
One type of properties whose ownership rights may lead to conflicts are those properties that have been owned by a single family for many generations. Land Registry records only contain details of properties that have been sold or those whose owners have come forth to register their ownerships. Properties that have been owned by a lineage for a long time and have not been registered can be a problem to identify their ownerships. Anyone in the family can take and develop the property when other family members are not within reach. A rightful owner may then show up and cause many ownership disputes. Properties that are taken over by adverse ownerships face similar problems.
The other difficulty that presents itself during ownership research is liens. Liens are forms of security against properties that are granted by property holders in case of debt or other obligation. Liens are similar to mortgages. A property holder may use his home to get a debt from his neighbour. This makes the neighbour have the right to own a property if the borrower fails to pay his debt. Buying a property that is in lien may cause ownership disputes between a buyer and the lender.
Similar to liens are covenants of record. Covenants of record are agreements signed between a property holder and another party to give the other party a right to use the property in question in a given way. The agreement may permit the other party to use the land for grazing his cattle, or for the construction of a borehole. The individual with the right to use the property does not become an owner of that property. He may sue a new owner of the property if ownership he fails to adhere to the pre-signed agreement.
Verification of legal title deeds
There are many ways that a buyer could get verify legal property ownership. The very first one is conveyance research at the Land Registry. Solicitors have the responsibility of going through any available records when doing property research. Their research should leave ownership rights unquestionable. Most ownership titles can be verified by property analysis alone.
There are other ways that a buyer can protect himself from ownership disputes if conveyance research fails. A buyer can write a contingency to force the seller to prove that he indeed owns the property. The buyer can then opt out of the conveyance if the owner fails to prove his ownership. A buyer may also insure a property against ownership disputes. Insurance firms have policies that protect new buyers from disputes of ownership.