How Can You Find Out Who Owns a House or Property?
Finding out who owns a property doesn’t have to be a complicated process. In fact, the majority of the time, this information can be sought out from the comfort of your own home. The owner of a property can be fairly easy to find — you just need to know where to start. To give you the answers you’re looking for, we’ve 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.
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 may also inform how much an individual or developer is willing to pay for the property.
You may also want to conduct this research to find out if there are any development projects in the area, which could influence your decision to buy. Of course, you might just be curious about who lived in a property you now own or wish to buy.
How Do I Find Out Who Owns a Property?
Head to GOV.UK and conduct a 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. These documents can be downloaded and viewed online and have specific information within them that can help you to find information 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 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, which allows user to enter a postcode and access the following information for a fee of £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.
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 don’t have access to and 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: A common problem is that 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 details can be uncovered from talking to people who have lived in the area for a long time.
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 detail about the unregistered property.
If you’re looking to buy a new home and are interested in selling your house quickly to a genuine cash buyer, get in touch with our team or enter your postcode for a free cash offer for your property.