“He who hesitates is lost” (Wise old proverb)
In January 2019 new amendments to Regulations for the replacement of lost title deeds (and similar documents like mortgage bonds and notarial bonds – see below) were published. They were very onerous and slated to come into effect at short notice, but after criticism they were suspended – until now.
Revised amendments have been published, to come into effect on 1 January 2020.
Firstly, what is a “Title Deed”?
A title deed (deed of transfer) is legal proof of ownership of a property. It also contains a lot of other important information relating to the property, such as a full description, its size, names of previous owners, bonds registered over it, conditions and legal restrictions relating to it and so on.
Why should you care if yours is lost?
Without the original title deed you cannot pass transfer to a buyer. So if you sell your property, your conveyancing attorney will need the title deed from you (if your property is mortgaged and the bond not yet paid off and cancelled, the bank should be holding the title deed as security).
All good if the title deed is readily to hand, but if it has been lost your attorney must apply for a certified copy. Until now – and this changes on 1 January 2020 – this was a relatively quick and cost-effective matter of attesting to an affidavit in which you confirm that a “diligent search” has failed to locate the title deed and that it isn’t pledged or held as security by anyone. All being well, a few weeks and a reasonable legal fee later, the Deeds Office issues a certified copy of the title deed and the transfer proceeds.
That’s extra expense and complication, but perhaps more important is the extra – and potentially very costly – delay. The good news is that all of that is avoidable if you act before the new requirements take effect.
So – whether or not you intend to sell your property in the near future – check immediately that you know where your title deed is, and if you can’t find it ask your attorney to apply urgently for a certified copy.
With Deeds Offices always closing earlier than normal in December, don’t hesitate – act now!
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)