Title Absolute


What Does Title Absolute Mean?

Title Absolute on the HM Land Registry title deeds means that there is no way that ownership of your property can be legally contested or claimed against.

Sometimes reversed as ‘Absolute Title’, it’s the best and strongest form of property ownership title.

Owners of properties with absolute title retain all legal rights to the underlying land. ‘Perfect title’ is another way to refer to this type of ownership.

There would not be absolute title, for example, if there are outstanding taxes on a property.

Divorce or separation proceedings – where a spouse could claim a portion of the property could also mean that the title will be impaired.  Of course, resolving situations like these through appropriate legal processes would render the title absolute.

It is possible to apply title absolute to both freehold and leasehold properties.

Where To Find Whether You Have Absolute Title?

If you’re buying a property, your conveyancing solicitor will download the title from HM Land Registry.  You can also download the Title Register for a cost of £3.

You’ll find it in part B – the Proprietorship Register – in large letters stating Title absolute.

In this section of the register, you’ll also find the name of the owner(s) or proprietor(s), full address, the price paid, the date of the transaction and any potential restrictions.

Note that, if you’ve just purchased the property, in most cases, the Title Register will be updated within 2 to 3 months after the conveyancing process.

What Could Affect Absolute Title When Buying or Selling a Property?

A property owner with absolute title can sell a property at their own discretion, passing that same title on to the buyer.

Whilst most properties fall under this class, HM Land Registry may not grant this form of ownership for two principal reasons:

If there is a title defect

The most common scenario where a title defect emerges is when a mortgage borrower falls behind with due payments.

When you take out a mortgage, the lender will have a charge (or ‘lien’) against the property.  This means they use your property as security for the loan.

If there is a default, the mortgage company’s charge renders the title defective which automatically restricts your ability to sell.  If arrears accumulate, they may even seek repossession.

Other title defects could stem from incorrect submission of legal paperwork (which can usually be resolved), unpaid taxes to the HM Revenue & Customs or issues with other co-owners.  For instance, during divorce proceedings, any claims by one of the spouses could result in the title becoming defective.

If there is insufficient evidence 

Where the property or land has never been registered and there is not enough legal documentation that proves ownership (or Epitome of Title), HM Land Registry will not award absolute title.

If a property you are planning to purchase does not have absolute title, your conveyancer may suggest applying for indemnity insurance.  This covers any losses you may experience should any third party make an ownership claim.

It is important to try and ensure that you do not accidentally go against any stipulations of the property’s deed, even if you do not have access to it.

For this reason, a property with absolute title is usually worth more than those with a possessory or qualified title…

Other Property Titles

If a property does not qualify for this title absolute, legally speaking, there are seven other classifications within which it could fall into.

The two most common ones are possessory title and qualified title to your property:

  • Possessory Title means that you do not have access to the original land registry title deeds. It could also mean that there is a possibility of contested ownership.  Possessory Title can also be claimed if a property has been acquired by way of ‘adverse possession’. This is where a person has openly and exclusively occupied it without consent from the owner for ten years minimum;
  • Qualified Title means that there are certain defects within – or reservations regarding – the title. It is arguably the least common title.  This may mean there is evidence of a breach of trust regarding certain parts (clauses) of the deed. In cases of this kind, the state’s guarantee will not cover the defective element.

These titles may apply to either freehold or leasehold properties.

Upgrading The Title to Absolute (at HM Land Registry)

Upgrading a title is governed by Section 62 of the Land Registration Act 2002.  Part 7 states that the Land Registry can only grant an upgrade to the following:

  • The registered proprietor (owner);
  • Those that are entitled to be classed as owners.  For instance, where a property is inherited and the Will states who the new owner(s) is, it’s entirely possible to upgrade.  Note that only once new proprietorship is confirmed can the inherited property be sold;
  • The proprietor (owner) of any registered charge that affects the estate;
  • A person interested in a registered estate derives from the registered estate to be upgraded.

If a property has held possessory title for 12 years without contestation, it may qualify for an upgrade absolute title.  No extra evidence is necessary.

For properties with qualified title, an upgrade application can be made at any time.  HM Land Registry will require clear evidence that justifies the grant of title absolute in the eyes of the law.

The title upgrade process is undertaken using Form UT1 (under rule 124 of the Land Registration Rules 2003).

Good Leasehold Title

Good leasehold title is a further type of title that is similar in many ways to title absolute. It may be applicable if you are unable to provide evidence of a property’s freehold title – or if the freeholder cannot be identified.

If you are granted a good leasehold title, it is HM Land Registry’s way of saying that, whilst it appears as though you have the required rights to the leasehold, it is still possible for someone to make a third-party claim.

In Conclusion

Title absolute is the most desirable of all titles.  Your conveyancing solicitor or conveyancer will be the first to advise if the property is not held under absolute title.

If you are planning to buy a property with title absolute, you can ensure that your position is safer by purchasing the right kind of indemnity insurance.  Most legal professionals will, however, advise against moving forward with these purchase.  Indeed, these types of purchases are more common amongst professional homebuyers like ourselves.