The first place to look when considering what registered land is (or is not) included within a registered title is to look at the Registry of Title and Plan held by the Land Registry. You should also look at the possession of the Land. In the event of an inconsistency between the Land Registry’s information and possession any person with an interest or potential interest in the land in question should consider this inconsistency sooner rather than later and will probably be forced to consider this inconsistency when seeking to buy or sell the land in question.
The inconsistency may due to trespass or it may be due to a mistake with the Land Registry and rectification of the Land Registry’s register of title and/or plan may be sought. The issue of mistake has recently been considered in the case of Patrick Murphy v Lambeth London Borough Council (2016) Ch D. This case concerned land originally sold by the local authority to a third party and then sold again to Patrick Murphy. The land in question was the basement and ground floor of a building; the Land Registry’s title register provided for inclusion of the basement and ground floor of the building within the registered land, however Mr Murphy was not in possession of the basement (as defined by the Land Registration Act 2002 Sch.4 para.3(2)) and the lease appeared to also exclude the basement. Mr Murphy sought a declaration from the Court confirming that the Title Register was correct, namely to include the basement. The local authority defended this claim and relied upon the wording of the lease and a notice served after the grant of the lease which explicitly excluded the basement.
The judge agreed with the local authority in respect of the wording of the lease although rejected their argument in respect of the notice; therefore finding that the basement should be excluded from the Land Registry’s title register.
The Land Registration Act provides for rectification of this register in “exceptional circumstances”, this is provided for within Sch.4 of this act. The judge found that there were exceptional circumstances, namely the permission the local authority had provided allowing division and accordingly development of the property including the basement and the time and money (approximately £80,000) which Mr Murphy had spent on the development of the property. However, despite a finding of exceptional circumstances the judge still found that these exceptional circumstances were not enough to reverse the effect of the Court’s findings regarding the wording of the lease. Accordingly the Land Registry’s Title Register was rectified to include only the ground floor.
At Benchmark Solicitors LLP we can assist in all property related disputes including disputes arising out of inconsistencies with the Land Registry’s Register of title and possession of the land.