The Land Registration Act of 1925 was introduced to ensure that land was registered. This was then replaced by the Land Registration Act of 2002 (LRA 2002) as the 1925 Act had lacked clarity. The idea was to have a system of registered title to land that would be guaranteed by the state and could be relied on by all prospective purchasers as proof of ownership. Now a person who is seeking to acquire an interest in land must check the register to determine if the land is subject to any interests. They must then register their title in the land once the sale has passed. This allows for accuracy as interests in land are protected through registration.
Where there is a sale of unregistered land it will give rise to first registration. Section 4 states that events such as a sale, gift, court order, assent, a grant of a lease of more than 7 years or a first legal mortgage of a qualifying estate are all subject to first registration. Section 6 and 7 of the LRA 2002 place the obligation to register in the hands of the new owner. They must register within 2 months (s.6 (4) LRA 2002). The sale becomes void if the purchaser fails to register within the 2 month period which in turn has the effect of creating a trust where the original owner will hold the property on trust for the purchaser. Essentially, the legal title to the estate reverts back to the transferor (s.7 (2)(a) LRA 2002).
However it should be noted that most of the land within England and Wales is already registered and as such, the LRA 2002 is mainly applied to subsequent dispositions. Meaning, the sale or lease of land already registered. Section 27 of the Act lists the dispositions that must be registered which follow the events at section 4. This list includes:
- Any transfer of land
- The grant of a lese of more than 7 years
- A reversionary lease
- An express legal easement
- A legal mortgage
Thus the new purchaser is said to take the property freely without being potentially bound by pre-existing rights that appear on the register or interests that override registered dispositions. There are a number of interests which are not subject to registration yet remain potentially binding even though they cannot appear on the register. There are known as interests that override the register.