HOW TO FIND UNREGISTERED LAND OWNERS
Finding Unregistered Land Owners is a difficult task for a number of reasons. This article has been written to help you understand some of the complex issues surrounding unregistered land and finding the owners of this type of land.
This article has been written by John Arko a UK specialist at finding owners of unregistered pieces of land. John has worked for many councils and solicitors as well as working for Taylor Wimpy House Builders.
The first thing to understand about unregistered land is that although it is unregistered, it is not ownerless. All land in the UK owned by someone but finding the owners is difficult for two main reasons. Firstly HM Land Registry doesn’t hold record of the title, so this will usually be with the owner. All land now has to go through the process of first registration but that only came into effect in the 1980s so any land that has not changed hands since before this time will be unregistered. Secondly, it’s hard to identify, if you wish to find the owner of a property its relatively simple, you can make reference to the door number and the street name, with a piece of land it comes down to how well you can describe it. This clearly causes problems as the wrong piece of land can easily be identified. There are also many instances of land being parcelled off within the usually boundary markings such as walls or hedges.
So what can you do to find unregistered land owners?
Well, once you have confirmed that the land is unregistered you should start by making local enquires, chances are the owner will live relatively close to the land, people within the vicinity should also be aware of the owners, it’s just a case of working out who the best people to talk to are. If you have to be discreet then your options are even more limited. I have spent many years creating a list of the most likely companies, government departments and individuals who could own or would know who owns land in each area of the UK, it’s a case of conducting your own enquiries and finding who these people who can help you are. It can be a very long, slow process. Once you get a name that can be the start of your problems! If you’re told the owner of the land is John Smith for example, how do you identify which one is the owner, or if he’s passed away, how do you trace his descendants because it’s their land. If someone died and no will was left it could have passed to the Crown. You could also see if a company owns the land. The main problem is there is little, if any electronic data to search, this means the only way to locate the owner is to contact them or someone who knows them, and you will have to pick up the phone or knock on doors. If you need to be discreet then it may be best to use someone such as myself as I can protect your identity whilst making these types of calls and with my experience I know who to target to get results quickly. Make sure you look at old maps too as they can reveal some great clues as to what the land used to be and who could still potentially own it. Your final problem will be faced if the owners don’t actually know that they own it, this happens more often than not if the owners are big companies or government departments. Best to tell them that they own it and let them work out if they do or not, if you ask if they own it they’ll likely say no before they’ve seriously looked into the matter.
Good luck with your unregistered land search, if you need any further information or advice give me a call on 0113 3660242
I hope this article has given you some tips for finding unregistered land owners.