Currently not even 30% of land in Scotland is registered in the Land Register of Scotland, which is a modern digital map-based Register. The remainder is still recorded in the General Register of Sasines which is a register of historic deeds and far less user-friendly.
The Keeper of the Registers of Scotland has therefore been asked by the Scottish Government to complete the Land Register by 2024, meaning that all Scottish land should be registered by then.
One way in which Registers of Scotland hope to achieve this goal is by Voluntary Registration. This is where private and public landowners are encouraged to take the initiative and submit an application for the registration of their property in the Land Register. No new deed is required to complete a title in the Land Register although a new Land Register compliant plan may be required.
Voluntary Registration allows the owner of an unregistered plot of land to apply for registration of that plot at any time.
What are the benefits of undertaking Voluntary Registration?
As registration in the Land Register requires an exact plan which does not overlap with other registered titles, it clarifies the exact boundaries of a piece of land which means certainty for owners.
Avoiding ownership disputes
Once the title is registered any queries from neighbours or others who want to check the ownership of an area can be dealt with more quickly and inexpensively as it saves lengthy title examination or disputes over ownership where the title deeds are unclear (as often they can be).
This is especially relevant for rural estates and farms with historic title deeds who may receive queries from neighbours in relation to the extent of the property whose titles may not contain plans or the plans may be unclear.
In addition, landowners wishing to sell their land to a developer may want to iron out any boundary discrepancies by registering their title which in the longer term will make the title more marketable and will simplify the due diligence in the sale.
A land-registered title also includes a state-backed guarantee which gives the owner protection against claims of adverse possession.
The Registers of Scotland is currently offering a 25% discount on the cost of the Voluntary Registration application fees to landowners who undertake the process. The fees are calculated on a sliding scale depending on the value of the land or property involved and range from £45 to £5625. The Registers have also set up a plans assistance service which can help with the examination of titles and the preparation of plans which are suitable for registration.