Dying to find my deeds

Our lawyer Fiona McNulty looks at the legal issues involved when title deeds are lost
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Lost deeds cartoon
© Malcolm Willett (www.willett-ink.co.uk)
Question: When I bought my house 14 years ago, my solicitor offered to retain my title deeds for safe keeping.

I recently wrote to request my deeds and my letter was returned by Royal Mail marked “Gone Away”. How can I find where my deeds are now?

Answer: A solicitor should always send their client a full copy of the title deeds, even if they retain a copy in their office. Clients may need to check the deeds if, for example, a boundary issue arises. Check your records again to see if that is what happened with you.

Your letter may have been returned for a variety of reasons. Your solicitor may have moved offices, retired, merged with another law firm or died. If your solicitor moved offices, they should have written to you to tell you of the changed circumstances and to let you know where your title deeds have been moved to.

If your solicitor died or ceased trading for some reason there would normally be an involvement by the Law Society, so contact the Law Society to establish what happened to your solicitor. If this proves unsuccessful, write to the Legal Complaints Service, which should be able to tell you what happened.

If you cannot trace the solicitor and don’t have a copy of your title deeds at home, then they will have to be “reconstituted”, which may have to be done by a new solicitor. Your old solicitor was under a duty to look after your deeds and you may be able to claim your costs of appointing a new solicitor.

What's your problem?

If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, email legalsolutions@standard.co.uk. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually.

Fiona is a partner in the property team at Thring Townsend Lee & Pembertons Solicitors www.ttuk.com.

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