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The Property Doctor.


Q I bought a house about 10 years ago but can't find the deeds. In fact I don't ever remember seeing any. Do I need them? A The title to your property is likely to be registered at HM land registry. The registry no longer issues formal documents as the information is kept on an electronic register with each property having its own title number.

Following completion, therefore, owners are now issued with a title information document - a snap shot of the electronic register at the precise time on which the electronic copy is printed. This is effectively the main title document.

If there are mortgages registered against the title, or documents affecting the title which contain covenants, or restrictions, then copies of these documents are often retained at the land registry and their existence mentioned on the register.

If you have a mortgage on the property the lenders only now retain the title information document and the original mortgage document leaving you to retain possession of all preregistration deeds and documents and other guarantees and documents relating to the property.

Your solicitor will have returned the title information document and mortgage deed to the lender and may well have retained the balance of these other documents, either on file, or in safe custody, at their offices.

Alternatively, the solicitors will have sent the balance of these documents to you to keep, and it is imperative you know where these are as the guarantees, planning permissions etc will need to be handed over in the event of resale.

Q My daughter is in a joint mortgage with a friend she has now fallen out with and wants to sever the connection. The mortgage contract still has another two years to run. Is there any way she can end it early without incurring any expensive penalties? A The likelihood is that the two of them will have bought the house with a fixed rate or tracker mortgage - with penalties for early repayment.

Your daughter can only sever the connection by either transferring her interest to the former friend, or a third party who may want to become a joint owner.

Or, the former friend could transfer her interest to your daughter, known as a transfer of equity.

No alteration to the current arrangements will be possible until the mortgage company has agreed to any transfer. If only one owner is to remain, the lender will need to be satisfied with the earning potential of that sole remaining owner - before releasing the outgoing party.

If the house has to be sold then an early repayment penalty may be incurred. Most lenders will not charge an early repayment penalty on a transfer of equity, but check first as any penalties can be substantial.

Q My brother-in-law has had his house repossessed. He bought a complete new kitchen less than a year ago which I offered to buy off him, but is he allowed to sell it and let me remove it? A Once a property has been repossessed this will have taken place as a result of a court order giving the lender the right to take possession.

If the kitchen had been fully paid for then this - along with the property - falls into the ownership of the lender and can be sold with the property. If the kitchen remained on a hire purchase, or other finance agreement, then title to the kitchen would remain with the hire purchase, or finance company, and could be removed by them.

It is unlikely you will able to remove the kitchen as this will also not only cause damage to the property, but adversely affect its saleability..
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:May 23, 2009
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