Protecting your land with voluntary registration

If you own land or property in Scotland, whether it’s a farm, a commercial landholding or a flat in a town, your ownership is recorded on one of two property registers. By moving from the older to the newer register, you can clarify your boundaries, gain greater security, and reduce future transaction costs.

The older register, the General Register of Sasines, dates back to 1617, making it the world’s oldest national record of land ownership. Being based on the verbal descriptions contained in property deeds, it is often difficult to interpret. The modern Land Register of Scotland, in contrast, shows exact property boundaries on a digital map.

Scottish ministers have asked Registers of Scotland, the non-ministerial government department responsible for land and property registration, to complete the land register by 2024, replacing the 400-year-old sasine register.

With all land on the land register, buying and selling property in Scotland will be simpler and cheaper. A completed land register will also make land ownership more transparent, as anyone will be able to look up who owns any piece of land across the country.

About sixty per cent of property titles, relating to just under 30 per cent of Scotland’s land mass, are already on the land register. If you bought your property after the land register started in your area – dates vary across the country – your title will already be registered, since a sale triggers an automatic registration. And from 1 April 2016, any property remortgaged with a new lender will also move to the land register.

However, many properties won’t be sold or remortgaged before 2024. Some of these will be moved to the land register using ‘keeper-induced registration’, a power that allows Registers of Scotland to add titles to the land register without an application from the owner. This method will initially only be used on a small scale within urban, residential areas of Glasgow, Midlothian and Angus starting in November 2016, followed by a full roll-out beginning in April 2017.

For larger landholdings, however, voluntary registration is the best approach, as it allows landowners to register what they own using their extensive and detailed knowledge of their property. You can apply for voluntary registration at any time.

Voluntary registration presents landowners with the opportunity to clarify the exact boundaries of their land, sorting out any discrepancies between neighbouring properties. It makes property management and succession planning simpler, as property details will be easily accessible online. Titles on the land register are protected by a state-backed warranty, giving protection against claims of adverse possession. And registering your land reduces the cost of future transactions.

To help landowners register their land, Registers of Scotland is offering a 25 per cent discount on its voluntary registration fees until at least mid-2019. It has also put a team of advisors in place to guide landowners through the process, and has developed new services to help owners map their land for registration.

Macleod & MacCallum’s Rural Land team are also currently running special offers for owners of farms, crofts and estates who are looking to register their title voluntarily. Please get in touch using the details below for further information.

Completing the land register will bring in a new era in property ownership, with long-term benefits both for property owners and for Scotland as a whole.

Find out more
From Registers of Scotland: You can contact Registers of Scotland’s voluntary registration advisors on lrcompletion@ros.gov.uk, or visit ros.gov.uk/lrc.

From Macleod & MacCallum: For details of special offers please contact Macleod & MacCallum’s Rural Land team on rural@macandmac.co.uk or on 01463 239393

Ruth McLaughlan

Ruth McLaughlan
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Staff profile

November 18, 2016