Upgrading the class of title of property (Land Registry)

19/08/2019
Can you upgrade the class of title of your property? Why would you want to? Simply put, the higher the class of title your property has, the more rights you have over your property particularly when it comes to buying and selling and even resisting other claims to your rightful ownership.

Upgrading the class of title of property is something that is carried out via the Land Registry.

What are the classes of title given by the Land Registry?

The Land Registry grants seven classes of title.

Both Freehold and Leasehold estates may be registered with either:
Additionally, leasehold estates may be registered with a good leasehold title. You can find these details at the beginning of the proprietorship register which can be found at the start of the office copy entry (click to find out more) for the property).


This article considers matters related to upgrading the class of title of your property and considers:



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    1

    What do the various classes of title mean?


    1
    Absolute
Absolute title - also known as title absolute or perfect title - is the best class of title and the one that will be granted by the Land Registry in the majority of cases.

Exceptionally, however, this may not be possible, such as where some evidence is lacking or a defect in the title is apparent, so making it unsafe for HM Land Registry to guarantee the owner absolutely against the risk of some other person claiming a right in the land.

Before 19 June 2006, the Land Registry didn't grant absolute leasehold title if on the registration of the lease:

  • the applicant was unable to lodge a consent by a head-lessor if the lease to be registered was a sub-lease and the lessor’s own lease contained a limitation on alienation
  • the lessor’s mortgagee had not consented to the grant of the lease
The Land Registry's practice now is normally to grant absolute leasehold title where the requisite consent is not lodged but it makes an entry in the register to reflect the fact.

Click on Absolute Title to learn more about this particular - and highest - class of title.


    2
    Good leasehold
There are many applications to register leasehold estates where the title of the landlord to grant the lease that is being registered has not been produced to HM Land Registry.

In such cases, the Land Registry will not know if the landlord had the full and unrestricted power to make the grant or if any restrictive covenants or other incumbrances (otherwise known as encumbrances) affect the property. So, provided that the title to the leasehold estate itself is satisfactory, it will grant good leasehold title.

Prior to 19 June 2006, good leasehold title was also granted where a superior lessor’s or mortgagee’s consent was not produced where this was required.

    3
    Possessory
Typically, possessory titles may be granted where the owner claims to have acquired the land by adverse possession. Alternatively, it may be where the owner cannot produce documentary evidence of title to an estate for some reason.

These titles are rare and are becoming rarer since the 2010 Coalition Government (Conservatives and Liberal Democrats) made residential squatting a criminal offence in 2010.

    4
    Qualified
Qualified titles are granted where there is some specific defect that has been identified and this is stated in the register. These are even rarer than possessory titles.


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    2

    Upgrading the Class of Title


    1
    Are you eligible to apply?
You can apply to upgrade an inferior class of title to a better one, under section 62(7) of the Land Registration Act 2002, if you are one of the following:
  • the registered proprietor
  • a person entitled to be registered as proprietor, such as personal representatives where the registered proprietor has died or someone who has just completed the purchase of a registered estate
  • the proprietor of any registered charge affecting the estate
  • a person interested in a registered estate that derives from the registered estate to be upgraded
    2
    When should you apply?
Apart from possessory titles referred to in Possessory titles after lapse of time (see below), you can make an application to upgrade the class of title at any time after the land is first registered provided that you can satisfy HM Land Registry that the reasons for granting an inferior class of title have been remedied. Details of how to apply using form UT1 are given further below in How to apply.

1 Possessory titles after lapse of time
Where title to an estate in land is a possessory one, whether freehold or leasehold, you can apply to upgrade the title to either an absolute freehold or a good leasehold title once the possessory title has been registered for 12 years (section 62(4) and (5) of the Land Registration Act 2002).

The date on which the title was first registered is stated in the property register, taken as the date on which the first proprietor was registered.

Use panel 10(C) of form UT1 to tell the Land Registry who is in physical possession of the property. Where this is not the registered proprietor, you must be able to demonstrate the applicant’s relationship with the person who is in possession that, for the purposes of section 131 of the Land Registration Act 2002, means they are to be treated as being in possession. An example would be where a landlord is the registered proprietor but his tenant actually occupies the property.

2 Possessory titles in other situations and qualified titles
You can apply at any time after registration to upgrade a possessory or qualified title in land, or a possessory or qualified rentcharge, by producing additional evidence of title to HM Land Registry that would remedy the reason why a possessory title or a qualified title was granted in the first place.

An example is where previously lost deeds have come to light.

3 Good leaseholds
You can apply to upgrade a good leasehold title to absolute leasehold if you can provide HM Land Registry with:
  • the lessor’s title and, where they are not the freeholder, title to any other reversionary titles up to and including the freeholder
  • the reversionary titles are registered with absolute title
Where good leasehold title was awarded before 19 June 2006 because the consent of the lessor’s mortgagee or the consent of the lessor’s own lessor to the granting of the lease had not been produced, you can apply to upgrade to absolute leasehold if you can produce the missing consent.

Alternatively, and where the consent is still outstanding, you can apply to upgrade to absolute title if you enclose a covering letter with your application requesting the upgrade on the basis of current HM Land Registry practice. The following entry/entries will be made in the register where the consent(s) are not lodged:

  • where the superior lessor’s consent has not been lodged:

    "The registrar has not seen any consent to the grant of this sub-lease that the superior lease, out of which it was granted, may have required,"

and/or:
  • where the consent of the lessor’s chargee has not been lodged:

    "The title to the lease is, during the subsistence of the charge dated… in favour of… affecting the lessor’s title (and to the extent permitted by law, any charge replacing or varying this charge or any further charge in respect of all or part of the sum secured by this charge), subject to any rights that may have arisen by the absence of the chargee’s consent, unless the lease is authorised by section 99 of the Law of Property Act 1925."
When registering a lease with good leasehold title in the past, HM Land Registry did not guarantee that any easements contained therein were validly granted. Therefore, the register for such a title would not reflect any limitations on those easements, were they required. When the Land Registry receives an application to upgrade a good leasehold title to absolute we will, as a matter of course, investigate the easements and amend the register accordingly if we discover any easements that cannot be guaranteed (for instance, if a servient title does not contain a corresponding subjective entry in the register).

In order to subsequently guarantee a limited easement entry, the Land Registry requires an application in Form AP1 in respect of the ‘offending’ servient title(s), together with evidence of compliance with any restrictions which would otherwise prevent the easement being noted.

If you have ascertained that a servient title is not subject to an easement referred to in the register of the title you are seeking to upgrade prior to lodging form UT1 (see How to apply below), the AP1 application can be made at the same time as the application to upgrade. In either case, a fee is payable under Schedule 3, Part 1(1) and notice may have to be served on the registered proprietor(s) and/or the proprietor(s) of any registered charges.


    3

    What you have to do to apply to upgrade the class of title?

You must use form UT1 (rule 124 of the Land Registration Rules 2003).

Want to download a sample Land Registry Form UT1?

You can download Form UT1 as a PDF for inspection here



This is available from law stationers or you can download an editable (.doc) Form UT1 from HM Government by clicking here. Alternatively, you may produce it electronically for your own use provided you get approval from the Forms Unit at HM Land Registry Head Office. Use panel 8 to tell the Land Registry the class of title to which you are applying to upgrade.

For example, with a possessory or qualified leasehold title you may wish to consider upgrading it to good leasehold or, alternatively, if you can satisfy the requirements in Good leaseholds, to absolute leasehold. Possessory and qualified freeholds will always be considered for upgrade to absolute freehold.

You must tell state in panel 9 the capacity in which the applicant is applying to have the title upgraded. If the applicant is neither the registered proprietor nor a registered chargee, you must supply evidence of their entitlement to apply and this should accompany the application form. If the application is to have a possessory title upgraded on the grounds that 12 years have elapsed since first registration, you must complete panel 10 of the form. 

Use panel 10 to indicate the basis of the application. For example, it may be that you are now able to lodge further evidence of title. Panel 11 is confirmation that no claim adverse to the title has been made by virtue of an estate, right or interest whose enforceability is preserved as a result of the existing entry about the class of title. If the form is signed by the applicant's conveyancer, the "I confirm" in this confirmation can be replaced by "The applicant confirms". Remember to enclose any necessary documentary evidence and the current fee payable to the Land Registry for the service.


    4

    Examination of evidence by HM Land Registry

The Land Registry examines the evidence lodged in support once you've made the application. If this is sufficient to remedy the reason why the inferior title was granted the title will be upgraded. It is particularly important to show title to any landlord’s title if the upgrade is to be to absolute leasehold. This also applies to the title of any superior landlord if the immediate landlord’s title is not registered with absolute title.


    5

    Possessory title registered before January 1909

When application is made to upgrade a possessory title that was originally registered before January 1909, a certified copy of the conveyance or assignment to the first registered proprietor should, if possible, be produced.


    6

    Fees

You normally have to pay a fixed fee for upgrading the class of title but you don't have to if the application for upgrade:
  • is accompanied by an application upon which a scale fee is payable
  • contains a covering letter stating that it is made on the sole basis that good leasehold title was granted as the consent of the superior lessor and/or the lessor’s mortgagee were not lodged at the time of registration of the lease
If you do apply to upgrade the title at the same time as a scale fee application, form UT1 must accompany the application in addition to any form for that application. You should ask the Land Registry as to exactly what fees are payable at the time you are looking to act.


    7

    Checklist - things to remember when applying

You need to:

  • enclose the necessary evidence that might enable upgrade, such as title deeds
  • enclose evidence of the applicant’s entitlement to apply where they are not the registered proprietor or the proprietor of a registered charge
  • complete form UT1 for all parts that apply
  • enclose the fee
Please note that HM Land Registry may be unable to process applications that are incomplete or defective and your application will risk losing its priority if the Land Registry has to return it to you.


Get a Conveyancing Quote

Our experienced property lawyers and ourselves work to hand-hold you through your conveyancing from start to finish and always work to ensure that you complete in as efficient and speedy a fashion as possible. So you don't need to worry about matters like title checks and due diligence of your counter party!

* Fixed Fee – No Sale No Fee – On all Mortgage Lender Panels



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