Are title deeds essential when we sell up?

What documents do we need to sell our home? And do you advise keeping title deeds somewhere safer than in the home?

Question: My wife and I paid off our mortgage and have the title deeds. However, these are the only documents we possess, as we seem to have lost a whole file during recent decorating. In this file were all my solicitors' letters, mortgage information, surveys, searches etc relating to the purchase in 2001. What documents do we need to sell our home? And do you advise keeping title deeds somewhere safer than in the home? 

Answer: In 1990, registration on the sale of a property was made compulsory in England and Wales. So when you and your wife bought your property in 2001 your title to it would have been registered at the Land Registry.

If title to the property was not already registered, after your completion of the purchase your solicitor would have made an application for first registration of title on your behalf. The deeds you have probably comprise an official copy of the register of title and title plan, and copies of any documents mentioned in the title register which have been filed at the Land Registry.

These are the important documents but more copies can be obtained from the Land Registry. There may also be copies of other documents relevant to your property such as planning and/ or listed building consents, building regulation consents, or guarantees such as National House Building Council certificates. The file is not necessary but may be useful for guidance when answering buyers' enquiries. Old title deeds are not essential but often provide valuable information about boundary ownership, rights of access etc.

Store your title deeds securely, in a safe if you have one. Some law firms store deeds for clients free of charge but others may charge an annual fee. Unregistered title deeds should ideally be kept in fireproof storage.

If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, please email or write to Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, London Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE. 

We regret that questions cannot be answered individually but we will try to feature them here. Fiona McNulty is a partner in the residential property, farms and estates team at Withy King LLP (

These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.

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