Landowners and representatives of Registers of Scotland (RoS) have taken further steps towards the completion of Scotland’s Land Register with meetings in the Highlands to discuss the process of voluntary registration.
Registers of Scotland has been asked by the Scottish Government to complete the country’s land register by 2024 for privately owned land and property and by 2019 for publicly owned titles. Part of that process will be working with members of Scottish Land & Estates to ensure owners of farms and estates register their land.
At the moment, around 58 per cent of all Scottish properties are on the land register, around 27 per cent of Scotland's land mass. Almost all the remaining properties are held on the General Register of Sasines. Property currently transfers from the Sasine to the Land Register through change in ownership, or by the owner voluntarily applying for registration. However from April next year this register will close to standard securities, such as a remortgage, and any change to title will automatically come on to the land register.
Landowners were informed at the meetings about the benefits of voluntary registration, which include clarity of title on the map-based system, which provides greater certainty and security about what is owned. A voluntary registration also includes a state-backed warranty of the information contained in the title deed.
Members of Scottish Land & Estates were also told that the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland has a new lever known as Keeper Induced Registration (KIR) where she can register land and property with no involvement of the owner. The details of how this process will work have yet to be finalised and a public consultation will be held later this year.
The process is also seen as useful in achieving the visibility of landownership that is outlined in Scottish Land & Estates’ Landowners Commitment.
David Johnstone, chairman of Scottish Land & Estates, said: “Our commitment is to take reasonable steps to ensure that ownership of land is visible and to ensure that landowners or their named representatives are accessible and contactable. Scottish Land & Estates therefore supports in principle the complete mapping of landownership in Scotland, but of course without unfair burden or expense placed on landowners. As owners and managers of land, members are concerned about the process and professional costs of voluntary or keeper induced registration of title and in particular the impact of any changes from a practical perspective. In general, we are concerned to ensure the integrity and accuracy of the land register for landowners across Scotland and will continue to work closely with Registers of Scotland as it progresses this work to achieve its target.”
Charles Keegan, Head of Land Register Completion at Registers of Scotland, said: “RoS is delighted to work with Scottish Land & Estates in helping to inform their members about the benefits of voluntary registering their land and property.
“When titles are added to the map-based public register, RoS will provide a title sheet that provides greater clarity on what is owned and should make any future transactions quicker and easier. We look forward to continuing to work with Scottish Land & Estates members going forward on registering their titles and would encourage anyone with an interest in voluntary registration to get in touch with the team.”