Absolute Title

14/07/2021
4,462
6 min read

Title absolute meaning

Absolute Title - or Title Absolute - is the highest class of title of a property, of which there are technically seven in total, awarded and recorded by the Land Registry. 

What does title absolute actually mean in property?

In simple English, your title to land is your legal proof that you own it - the subject has a long history! - and if it's absolute, it's 'proof against the world' that the authorities are satisfied with your ownership credentials.

Conversely it also means that the Registry can safely guarantee you as owner against the risk of someone else claiming a right to your land.


Otherwise also known as perfect title, it gives unequivocal right of ownership to the owner and cannot be disputed or challenged by anyone else. 

This article therefore considers the concept of Title Absolute from a number of perspectives:


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    1

    What influences the Land Registry to award absolute - and other - titles?


In strict terms...

Strictly speaking, the Land Registry grants title absolute if, when the title is first presented for registration, the person applying for registration can show an unbroken chain of ownership going back at least 15 years.

With leasehold titles, any applicant would also need to prove the landlord's right to grant the lease. If the landlord's title is already registered then the applicant need only produce official copies of the registers of that title, otherwise he'll have to deduce the landlord's title in the same way as his own, i.e by demonstrating 15 years' ownership.


The majority of titles are actually title absolute but in a shrinking minority of cases, the Land Registry won't award it essentially on the grounds of some evidence lacking or a defect in the title.

Evidence Lacking

If, for example, you were wishing to register a property for the first time with the Land Registry, you would have to go through a process called proving the Epitome of Title (click to find out more). The long and the short of it is that if you can't locate the original title deeds anywhere, you can't get title absolute.

Defect in the title

There can be many defects in the title both financial and non-financial and sometimes the word 'encumbrance' is used here and it means pretty much the same thing: title absolute means your property is unencumbered in comparison.

Any title that has a lien against it cannot be absolute. A lien is a legal term for when a property owner grants rights to a creditor (someone you owe money to) which involve the property. So if you don't pay back your mortgage lender from whom you've borrowed money to help you buy a property and to whom you've given a charge - or lien - over your property, the lender may be able to seize the property or force a sale to get the money back.

An example of another financial defects includes where there are outstanding taxes on a property which remain uncollected - this would impair any sale to a new owner until the matter was resolved.

An example of a non-financial defect would be where a spouse holds some claim to a property – for example, during divorce proceedings – the seller does not hold the absolute title of over the property making a sale difficult.


What possible kinds of title are there?

There are seven possible kinds of title that may be granted. Both freehold and leasehold estates may be registered with either:
  • an absolute title
  • a possessory title
  • a qualified title
In addition, leasehold estates may be registered with a good leasehold title. The class of title with which the property is registered is stated at the beginning of the proprietorship register.



    2

    What rights does Absolute Title provide?

An absolute title has no outstanding disputes or hindrances that might otherwise affect you as the owner's ability to use or dispose of the property as you see fit.

You are free to sell the property at your discretion, which could give the buyer absolute title upon completion of the transaction, dependent on how the purchase was structured.

You as the seller of a property can only transfer the portion of an absolute title if you held it in the first place. In other words, a buyer cannot obtain an absolute title through a seller who does not possess it.

Additionally you take the land free of any matters (such as rights, covenants, easements (click to find out more about either) etc) which are not registered against the title (with the exception of overriding interests).

Choice of Leasing or Renting out your property

As absolute title holder of a property, you can opt to lease or rent it out rather than sell it outright or you might opt to sell part of it, creating a separate title. which is known as Transfer of Part (click to find out more).


    3

    How do you find out about whether an owner has Absolute Title over a property?

This information - and many other essential identifying data about a property, its exact address, location and ownership and much more - can be found in the Land Registry's Official Copy of the Register of Title (click to find out more) of the property.

You find it in section B, which is the proprietorship register. Apart from telling you who the current owner is and information about anything which affects the right of disposal, it states the class of title.

When you come to sell a property, your solicitor will, at the start of proceedings, obtain an office copy entry which has all the information described - they need to be sure of the quality of ownership you have over the property you want to sell.


    4

    Can you upgrade your class of title?

The simple answer is yes, however, firstly you have to be one or other of the following:

  • the registered proprietor
  • a person entitled to be registered as proprietor, such as personal representatives where the registered proprietor has died or someone who has just completed the purchase of a registered estate
  • the proprietor of any registered charge affecting the estate
  • a person interested in a registered estate that derives from the registered estate to be upgraded


Buying or Selling your home and need conveyancing?

You can trust our expert property solicitors' legal eagle eyes to read all the fine print when it comes to contracts, reports and all associated documentation and to master and coordinate all the processes required to put you in your new place, happily drinking your first cup of tea and putting your feet up.

* Fixed Fee – No Sale No Fee – On all Mortgage Lender Panels



 
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