How to find out who owns land

Key Information
  • Currently 85% of land in England and Wales is registered.
  • Addland offers Ownership records and Ownership category information for company-owned land.
  • HM Land Registry is aiming for a comprehensive land registry by 2030.

Whether you're a property professional looking to survey or develop a piece of land or a civilian doing a pre-property purchase site assessment, finding out who owns land can be incredibly useful. Since 1st December 1990, England and Wales have been subject to compulsory registration, meaning you don't need a real estate professional to find out who owns a piece of land; every time a piece of land is bought or sold it must be registered and accessible online. Once it's registered online there are a number of ways to search for it.

Searching on Addland

Addland's research tool allows you to carry out a map search and access digital copies of title property owner records and title ownership along with much more land information. If you have a location, postcode, what3words address or title number you are able to search both title ownership records and title ownership categories on Addland.

Title Ownership records - Identifies the primary title owner(s), including the company or business name and contact details.

Title Ownership Category - Identify the registered owner of any registered title from; Company, Corporate Body, Housing Association or Local Authority.

For privately owned property ownership information, you will need to purchase from HM Land Registry. However, for property professionals looking to research all company-owned ownership records, an Addland membership is perfectly suited.

Searching on HM Land Registry

HM Land Registry contains information on land ownership for both company and privately owned land, both of which you will need to pay a fee of £3 for. If you have the correct address, postcode or title number of a property you can access a map location search on HM Land registry’s records for 25 million titles in England and Wales, and is suitable for the majority of people. When searching it's possible to access different elements of the title including the:

  • Title Register
  • Title Summary
  • Title Plan

The Title Register includes:

  • the title number
  • who owns it
  • what they paid for it (properties only, if available)
  • any rights of way
  • whether a mortgage on it has been ‘discharged’, for example paid off

The Title Summary includes:

  • the title number
  • who owns it
  • what they paid for it
  • whether the property is freehold or leasehold (known as ‘tenure’)
  • the lender’s name and exact address (if there is a mortgage on the property)

The Title Plan is a map showing:

  • the property’s location
  • the general legal boundaries - there’s usually no record of exact boundaries

What if the land in question is not registered?

HM Land Registry is aiming for a comprehensive land registry by 2030 but currently only 85% of land in England and Wales is registered. Land owned by the Crown, aristocracy and Church often has not been sold, which is usually the process that triggers the registration of unregistered land.

Finding property ownership details and accessing land registry title deeds on unregistered parcels of land is a lot harder but not impossible. Checking adjoining land title ownership can serve as a clue, as can country and local authority records. Local authorities may also have it on record the previous owner if the plot has ever had a planning application form filled out for it; by law applicants have to sign, so there'll be a public record of either a certificate A to say they are the property owner, or a certificate B where they say the have served notice on the current owner, therefore stating who owns the plot of land.

What about Land in Northern Ireland and Scotland?

To find out who owns a piece of land in Scotland and Northern Ireland you will need to carry out your search on different registers. In Scotland, the Land Register of Scotland and in Northern Ireland, the Land & Property Services hold titles of Northern Ireland's Land Registry.

Published: 14 February 2023
Last updated: 23 March 2023

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