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Do You Really Know What You Own? Landowners Urged To Look At Voluntary Registration

Life is full of uncertainties but if there is any room for dispute over your properties boundaries now is the time to have your land ownership guaranteed.

CKD Galbraith is urging landowners to consider voluntary registration, especially for rural landholdings which many believe aren't likely to be targeted by keeper-induced registration, in anticipation of the Scottish Government's deadline for completing land and title registration.

Registers of Scotland have been asked by the Scottish Government to complete the country's land register by 2024 for privately owned land and property and by 2019 for publicly owned titles. At the moment, around 58 per cent of all Scottish properties are on the land register, but this only equates to around 27 per cent of Scotland's land mass.

Calum Innes, Partner at CKD Galbraith, outlines the benefits of seeking professional advice and registering your land in advance of the deadline:

If you're a landowner considering a sale, a transfer to the next generation, new standard security, are aware of potential title discrepancies or have an ancient title, voluntary registration is something to be given serious consideration now.

Of course there is a cost/benefit exercise to be undertaken, but there are strategies that can be adopted to progress in measured stages to gauge the scale of the work required and effectively manage cost. We are working closely with the Registers in terms of their Plans Assistance Service whereby they will undertake an initial review of titles at a pre-determined cost which provides a helpful starting point for the land agents and solicitors to review and progress.

The firm have already undertaken a number of voluntary registrations for landholdings. We have come across many circumstances where voluntary registration is likely to reap dividends in the longer term and we would encourage landowners to be proactive in reviewing their own position.

For example, we encountered a situation recently whilst concluding a sale of a farm where the main access track was included on both our client's title and their neighbour's title. This was due to an historic error when the two farms were split from the original Estate title, some 30 years earlier. As the neighbour had voluntarily registered their title first, their claim to title of the access was deemed to be more secure.

Although this could have been disputed by our client, which might have been successful, the purchaser wanted a quick conclusion and clean purchase. Therefore, our client agreed to pay a substantial sum demanded by the neighbour for the access, rather than risk losing the purchaser. This may have been avoided, had our client voluntarily registered their title first.

Another substantial rural landowner has a reasonably clear understanding of their landownership arising from a title that goes back centuries. In the interim, various settlements have developed and they are presently pursuing a master planning strategy in relation to a strategic village and are keen to clarify their ownership in and around this settlement as such includes many small areas in addition to identifiable properties together with various rights and burdens. They are to pursue voluntary registration for the village areas in the first instance and this process will inform the decision of whether to register the remainder of the estate.

CKD Galbraith can offer a robust collaborative methodology for achieving successful registration. As a firm, we have extensive experience and unrivalled local knowledge in rural management issues. The firm has invested in significant technical mapping resources and worked with Registers of Scotland to develop and improve protocol for effectively displaying mapped rights.