How Can You Find Out Who Owns a House or Property

A chess board with pieces - a blog post about how to find out who owns a property


Updated May 2021

Finding out who owns a house in the UK doesn’t have to be a complicated process. In fact, the majority of the time, this information can be sought from the comfort of your home. It’s fairly easy to find the owner of a property — you just need to know where to start. To give you the answers you’re looking for, our team of property experts has put together some information to point you in the right direction.

The best place to begin when looking for the owner of a property is the HM Land Registry. These searches can generally be done online at little-to-no cost. 

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Why Would You Want to Find Out Who Owns a Property?

If you’re interested in purchasing a property, previous ownership information could impact your decision to make an offer or how much you are willing to pay. For example, if a property has changed hands multiple times in a short period, this may send alarm bells ringing: “Why are people moving in and out so quickly? Is the property worth the asking price?” Historical sale prices can inform how much an individual or developer is willing to pay for the property.

You might also want to conduct this research to find out if there are any development projects in the area that could influence your decision to buy. And, of course, you could just be curious about who previously lived in a property you now own or wish to buy.

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How Do I Find Out Who Owns a Property?

Head to GOV.UK and conduct a title deeds search. HM Land Registry holds records on most property or land sold in England or Wales since 1993. These records include details of the title register, title plan, title summary and flood risk indicator. You can run a land registry search, download the documents and view them online — giving you access to specific information that can help you to find details about the property owner.

  • The title register contains details about the property or land in a downloadable format. It includes the title number, who owns the property, what they paid for it, any rights of way and whether a mortgage on it has been “discharged”.
  • The title summary includes the title number, who owns it, what they paid for it, whether the property is freehold or leasehold and information about the lender’s name and address — assuming there has been a mortgage on the property.
  • The title plan is a map showing the property’s location and its general boundaries — there’s usually no record of exact boundaries.

You can also access a flood risk indicator should you need one. This gives you information on how likely the land or property is to flood, and it combines data from the Environment Agency and HM Land Registry.

To get started, you’ll need to create an account with a valid email address and payment method. There are some small fees to pay, depending on the information you need. Fees range from £3 for a title summary to £10.80 for a flood risk indicator. Once you have an account, you can search for a property by house number or name and the postcode. You’ll need to search different registers if the property is in Scotland or Northern Ireland. 

A new basic search service has recently been added to GOV.UK that allows users to enter a postcode and access the following information for a fee of just £3:

  • Who owns the property
  • What they paid for it
  • If there’s a mortgage on it

If you don’t know the postcode, you can search by street address. You’ll still need to create an account and make a payment by debit or credit card.

Land registry searches can be completed online, making them entirely safe and in line with government guidelines regarding prevention of COVID-19 transmission.

Troubleshooting Problems That May Arise

If you find it difficult to gain information about the owner of the property in question, there are several options you can explore.

Tracing Agents:
You can instruct a tracing agent to find the information for you. These professional investigators will be able to access specific data on online systems that the general public doesn’t have access to — allowing them to retrieve the details about the property owner. It normally costs around £35 to hire a tracing agent.

Ask around and Explore beyond the Land Registry:
One of the more common problems people incur when trying to trace ownership is that the land or property is unregistered. Approximately 85% of land and property in England and Wales is registered, but if you’re unlucky and the property you’re interested in is unregistered, all is not lost. Your first port of call should be to ask around the local area. It’s surprising what property information can be uncovered from talking to people that have lived in the area for a long time. 

If it’s a piece of unregistered land you’re interested in, it’s worth checking adjoining registered properties as this could provide clues about the owner. You should also contact the local authority to check if any planning applications have been submitted. Applicants are legally required to sign either a Certificate A to say they are the owner or a Certificate B to state that they have served notice on the owner. The electoral register may provide further details on previous owners.

Access Local Records:
If the locals are unable to help, check local authority records, and find out if any planning applications have been made by contacting the County Record Offices. These local sources of information may be able to provide further details about the unregistered property.

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