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In law, land registration is a system by which the ownership of estates in land is recorded and registered, usually with government, to provide evidence of title and facilitate transactions.
In common law countries, particularly in Commonwealth jurisdiction, when replacing the deeds registration system, title registrations are broadly classified into two basic types: the Torrens title system and the English system, a modified version of the Torrens system.
England and Wales
A system of land registration was first attempted in England and Wales under the Land Registration Act 1862. This system proved ineffective and, following further attempts in 1875 and 1897, the present system was brought into force by the Land Registration Act 1925.
Over time various areas of the country were designated areas of compulsory registration by order so in different parts of the country compulsory registration has been around longer than in others. The last order was made in 1990, so now virtually all transactions in land result in compulsory registration. One difference is when land changes ownership after death and where land is gifted rather than sold; these only became compulsorily registrable in April 1998. Similarly it became compulsory to register land when a mortgage is created on it in 1998.
The Land Registration Act 2002 leaves the 1925 system substantially in place but enables the future compulsory introduction of electronic conveyancing using electronic signatures to transfer and register property.
England and Wales Land Registry is connected to the European Land Information Service EULIS.
The Hong Kong Land Registry administers the Land Registration Ordinance and provides facilities for search of the Land Register and related records by the public and government departments. It has responsibility for the registration of owners corporations under the Building Management Ordinance.
Land registration is not required in the U.S. Instead, each state has a recording act, either a race, notice, or race/notice statute, to protect a bona fide subsequent purchaser.
Land registration is not compulsory across all of Ireland, and two parallel registries are maintained: the Land Registry (Clárlann na Talún in Irish) and the Registry of Deeds (Clárlann na nGníomhas). Registration is compulsory in a number of the counties of Ireland for transaction of real property.
The system in Ireland follows the English system, but with features typical of the Torrens system (for example, anyone can inspect the register). Robert Torrens himself drafted the Record of Title (Ireland) Act, 1865 in order to record titles conveyed. The Landed Estates Court a register, the "Record of Title". While the record was not open to the public, the index could be inspected by anyone. Recording of title under the Act was voluntary and this was one of the reasons why the Act proved ineffective.
The Land Registry has been dealing with the registration of all transactions (purchase, sale, mortgage, remortgage and other burdens) concerning registered land since 1892, and issued land certificates which are a state guarantee of the registered owner's good title up to 1 January 2007. Land Certificates have been abolished by virtue of Section 23 of the Registration of Deeds and Title Act, 2006. Every piece of land in the register — which is arranged by county — is granted a folio number, under which all transactions pertaining to the land can be examined on request and after payment of a fee. Approximately 90% of land by area, and 85% of title, is registered.
The Registry of Deeds has since 1708 dealt with the registration of title deeds, mortgage documents and other documentation concerning unregistered land. Such documents are not retained by the registry, but rather one-page summaries (called "memorials") of conveyancing and mortgage documents are stamped and filed by the registrar. No certificates or guarantees of title are issued: the registry merely endeavours to provide information concerning the deeds lodged against a certain property — and, crucially, the order in which they were lodged — such as the last named owner or the latest mortgage to be lodged.
Both registries are managed by the Property Registration Authority and have offices in Dublin, Waterford and in Roscommon. Since independence, the registries have dealt with the land in the 26 counties of the Republic of Ireland (formerly the Irish Free State, 1922-37) only, the registers of land in Northern Ireland now being administered by the Land Registers of Northern Ireland.
The Property Registration Authority in Ireland is connected to the European Land Information Service EULIS.
- Riddall, J.G. (2003). Land Law. 7th ed., Lexis-Nexis Butterworths. ISBN 0-406-96743-1. Ch.26 for current law in England and Wales
- Land Law In Ireland; Andrew Lyall; ISBN 1 85800 186 2; Chp 24
- 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica - much historical detail
- Land Registry in the United Kingdom
- Land Registry and Registry of Deeds in the Republic of Ireland
- The European Land Information Service - The EULIS portal connects official land registers across Europe.
- Lists of European Survey and Cadastre Websites by Country