Property Questions: What are deeds?
Essentially, Deeds are the trail of legal documents that prove or record the ownership of a property. Since 1990, on the sale of a property, it has been mandatory to register the ownership at Land Registry. When Land Registry complete the registration process, they provide an Official Copy of the Registry and an Official Copy of the Title Plan together known as the Official Copies of Title. These were historically on paper but are now mostly digital and these are what are considered to be the “Deeds”. However, there are additional documents that make up the “Deeds Pack” or “Title Deeds” that will be required when you come to sell the property. The Deeds Pack will vary depending on the type of property.
For Freehold properties, the Land Registry Official Copies of Title are usually the only relevant documents to retain and these are electronic so can be readily obtained from Land Registry.
Leasehold properties will require the addition of the original signed and dated Lease to be retained as Deeds, although an Official Copy of the Lease is also held digitally by Land Registry alongside the Register and Plan. There may also be further documents to add to the Deeds such as an original Share Certificate or an original Membership Certificate, if relevant. For new build Leasehold Properties, you should also retain your 10-year NHBC Certificate (or equivalent such as LABC or Premier Guarantee) along with the Building Regulations Completion Certificate.
Other general documents to keep with the Deeds include any indemnity policy or Declaration of Trust.
In preparing for the sale of a property, the Deeds Pack will be required alongside documents such as the Energy Performance Certificate, Electric and Gas Safety Certificates, FENSA certificates, building regulations and planning permissions for any alterations, party wall notices, listed building documents, guarantees/warranties for a new boiler/new roof/damp proofing, water bill, service charge and ground rent statements, mortgage details etc, so it may be advisable to retain these documents and keep them up to date as and when they expire. Having these documents to hand will save delays when it comes to selling your property.
It is also worth noting that if you have a mortgage then your Title Deeds may be kept by the Lender, although this is increasingly rare for UK Banks, but not so for overseas Lenders.