General legal issues

Title problems

Title problems

It is common to find that the property you are trying to sell or let is held or registered in the wrong name or with an incomplete description.

  • This may have arisen from a merger between two companies that was not completed by a trust, or in the case of individual trustees of an unincorporated charity because the register was not updated when trustees changed.
  • It is also a common mistake for the Land Registry and solicitors acting for charities to fail to appreciate the lack of corporate status of unincorporated charities and to apply for registration of unincorporated charities in the charity name
  • This means that in effect registration may be in the name of a predecessor charity of a company which “incorporated” by transferring all its assets to the current charity in order to obtain the benefits of permanence and limited liability.
  • The current “form E” restriction refers to the statutory requirements concerning disposals of land, including the separate provisions relating to mortgages.  Old restrictions on the register can cause confusion, and where time permits it is sensible to write to the Land Registry and point out that they should be converted to form E restrictions.  There are some titles still bearing the redundant restrictions which appear to require the consent of the Charity Commission to any disposal, or  that of of the Minister of Education.
  • In the case of charitable companies, it  is common for the Land Registry to fail to apply the rule that a company registered number should be included in the proprietorship register of the relevant title. In this case sometimes the only remedy would be vesting under section 69(1)(e) of the Charities Act 2011 or an adverse possession application.
  • Some unincorporated charities with unincorporated trustees still hold registered land where the proprietor is simply stated as being the trustees of their organisation.  This is different from registration of incorporated trustees, but there can be real confusion where unincorporated trustees have not been properly registered as proprietors. Group registration is no longer permitted, but does persist with older registrations. The Land Registry will usually still follow the previous practice of accepting a statement from the charity’s solicitor as to the identity of persons who are the trustees of the charity, Those persons should be the transferor in the TR1, rather than the named proprietor shown in the proprietorship register.