Why Landowners should consider ‘Voluntary Registration’

Why Landowners should consider ‘Voluntary Registration’

2nd December 2021

By Lauren Buchanan, Senior Solicitor

The ‘Land Register’ will replace the ‘Sasine Register’ by 2024. If you own property or land in Scotland and if you haven’t already done so, you should consider Voluntary Registration soon. Senior Solicitor Lauren Buchanan explains the benefits and the implications of not doing so in this article.

You may have watched the recent BBC Scotland programme from Martin Geissler entitled ‘Who owns Scotland? And, whilst this new 2-part programme provides a fascinating insight into land ownership in mainly urban Scotland, it also shines a light on our ancient records and how the national land register moves from parchment to gigabytes.

When you own property or land in Scotland, your title to the property or land is recorded with the Registers of Scotland in their land registers.

There are currently two land registers operating in Scotland. There is of course the oldest property register in the world, known as the ‘Sasine Register’, and the new ‘Land Register’ which was established in 1981.

The Land Register of Scotland is a modern, digital map-based register (based on the Ordnance Survey map) and the Scottish Government created policy to have all old Sasine Registered titles moved over onto the Land Register by 2024. With the overall aim being, to create one consolidated and easily accessible database of all land in Scotland by that date.

To provide some background context behind this target, titles registered within the Sasine Register are a chronological list of title deeds showing each and every transfer of the property. Each transfer will have its own individual deed, meaning that the title for the property could have numerous individual deeds. Whereas a Land Registered title is a single, digital, printable sheet containing all the previous information contained within the individual Sasine deeds.

The purpose of the new Land Register was to remove the need to keep each individual deed and create a single, accessible title that could be viewed with the click of a button.

However, to implement this and encourage land/property owners to come forward voluntarily, they began a process of ‘Voluntary Registration’. To encourage participation in this voluntary process, the Government is offering the incentive of a discount on registration fees.

The Registers of Scotland are also proceeding with ‘Keeper Induced Registration’. This is a non-voluntary process where the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland will move the title for your property/land over from the Sasine Register to the Land Register on your behalf without consulting you about this. There is currently no fee attached to this Keeper Induced Registration, however it has already been shown to cause significant problems and inaccuracies which have subsequently caused significant legal costs to rectify.

Voluntary Registration does afford the landowner greater control over the registration process and decreases the likelihood of problems and inaccuracies in the future. The system undoubtedly needs an overhaul and its getting one, this modern digital map-based register will give a much clearer picture of who owns what and with the clock ticking towards 2024, we would recommend that landowners act on a voluntary basis now.

If you own land or property and would like to discuss Voluntary Registration, and indeed Keeper Induced Registration, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me or one of the team at Garden Stirling Burnet for help and advice on the matter.

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