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An interest in land that is registered with the LandRegistry, and therefore has its own title number. Registration is now controlled by the statutory scheme set out in the Lra (2002), which replaced the Lra (1925) on October 13, 2003.
The register entry contains various information about the title, its owner(s) and any charges affecting the land. It is divided into three sections: property (A), proprietorship (B), and charges (C). The following is an example (it's my house, in fact, but I've changed the address and title number because I don't really want people coming round to check things out for themsevles!). The text in metawriter style (like this) is from the register; my comments are in ordinary meta.
Let's start with the 'A' register.
TITLE NUMBER : MX11111 A REGISTER
GREATER LONDON LONDON BOROUGH ENFIELD
1 (4 November 1938) The Freehold land shown edged with red on the plan of the above Title filed at the Registry and being 21 Acacia Avenue, East Dogpatch, (D13 1ZZ).
2 The land has the benefit of a right of way at all times and for all purposes in common with all persons having the same right over the part of the passageway not included in this title leading from the back into Station Road.
So we have the title number and the address of the property itself. The register refers to a 'filed plan', which is an Ordnance Survey map with the boundaries of the property marked on it. As well as the Freehold property itself, the title gets the benefit of an Easement of access into Station Road.
Now the B register:
TITLE NUMBER : MX11111 B REGISTER - ABSOLUTE FREEHOLD
1 (30 September 1998) Proprietor: %KEVIN GRAHAM BOONE% and %RACHEL ELISABETH BOONE% of 13 Acacia Avenue, East Dogpatch, *London* D13 1ZZ.
2 (30 September 1998) RESTRICTION: Except under an order of the registrar no disposition by the proprietor of the land is to be registered without the consent of the proprietor of the Charge dated 4 September 1998 in favour of National Westminster Home Loans Limited referred to in the Charges Register.
END OF B REGISTER
This section names the proprietors of the title, and the grade of title (absolute freehold in this case). Because I bought the house with a mortgage loan, the lender has got the registrar to enter a Restriction which prevents me from selling the house without the company's approval.
Notice that there is no statement on the register about how the co-owners divide up the title between themselves (see co ownership of land). In fact, my wife and I are 'JointTenants in law and equity', but that isn't something that a purchaser of the house needs to know. This is the mirror principle at work.
Now the C register...
TITLE NUMBER : MX11111 C REGISTER ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1 A Conveyance of the land in this title and other land dated 23 November 1931 made between (1) Frank James Lawes (Vendor) and (2) Park Estates (Southgate) Limited (Purchaser) contains covenants details of which are set out in the schedule of restrictive covenants hereto.
There are so many restrictive covenants affecting the title that they need their own section in the register.
The land is subject to rights of drainage through the sewers therein and thereunder.
This is an Easement of drainage. My neighbours can use the shared drains that run under my house for their own drainage.
The part of the passageway leading from the back included in this title is subject to rights of way.
My neighbours have easements of access over my part of the shared driveway at the rear of the house.
(30 September 1998) REGISTERED CHARGE dated 4 September 1998 to secure the moneys including the further advances therein mentioned. 6. Proprietor: #NATIONAL WESTMINSTER HOME LOANS LIMITED# ...
This is a Mortgage by way of legal charge. Note that the mortgage does grant a property right to the mortgage company, which is why Natwest Home Loans Ltd is the 'proprietor' of the charge.
Now we come onto the restrictive covenants...
1 COVENANT by Purchasers to the intent that covenant should be binding not only upon the Purchasers but also so far as might be upon the property thereby conveyed into whosesoever hands the same might come and to the intent that the benefit of the covenant should be annexed to the adjoining or neighbouring property of the Vendor forming part of the Weir Hall Estate that they the Purchasers and their successors in title would at all times hereafter observe and perform the stipulations set forth in the Schedule thereunder written.
Note that the covenant is very clearly expressed to be made for the benefit of the vendor and his successors in title, and is to be 'annexed' to the land of the neighbouring properties. This is necessary if the burden of the covenant is to be recognized in equity as running with the land.
2 COVENANT by Purchaser with Vendors binding on the land that Purchaser and his successors in title would not at any time use or permit the land thereby conveyed or any part thereof or any building thereon to be used for the sale of beer wines spirits and excisable liquors or any of them...
Who can enforce this convenant, if I decide to run a pub on my land? The original covenantees (the builders) are long gone, very likely to the great building site in the sky; although they do have successor in title, it's not going to be obvious who they are, and very doubtful indeed that they would want to get involved in breach of a covenant made 70 years ago. However, it is very likely that my house is in what would be recongnized legally as a 'building scheme', and that these convenants are building scheme covenants. If they are, then they could, in principle, be enforced against me by my neighbours.
3. FENCES. The Purchasers are forthwith to erect on their land and afterwards to maintain dwarf walls next Acacia Avenue and Station Road for a distance of 25 feet ...
Could this covenant be enforced against me? The duty to maintain a fence is a positive obligation -- it requires expenditure on my part. It is highly unlikely that it will be recognized as an enforceable restrictive covenant. However, in crow v wood (1970) the duty to maintain a fence was recognized as an enforceable easement, so it is at least possible that this covenant (or easement) is enforceable.
4. DESCRIPTION OF BUILDINGS. Private dwellinghouses only with such Garages or with such other outbuildings as the Vendor may by writing approve shall be erected...
5. USER. No house shall be used otherwise than as a private dwelling house but this provision shall not preclude the carrying on therein by the resident of the profession of business of a Solicitor Doctor Surgeon Dentist or Architect.
In otherwords, I can't run a business from my home unless it's a good middle-class profession.
6. VALUE. No house shall be erected of less value than £600 such value to be based on...
With the prices of things being what they are, I wonder what I would have to do to fall foul of this one?
7. The Purchasers and their successors in title shall not be entitled to any right of access of light or air to any buildings to be erected on the land ...
And so on. There are more, but they are all in the same vein.