Searching our property registers

In the past year, we have seen an increase in the number of citizens contacting us about property ownership in Scotland. In this blog, our Property Information Team Leader Kate Fryer and Head of Customer Services Gill Martin look at our property registers and how you can access information from them.

 Scotland’s property registers

At Registers of Scotland, we maintain 20 public registers that provide for the registration of legal documents in Scotland. These include two property registers – the General Register of Sasines and the Land Register of Scotland.

The General Register of Sasines is a register of deeds that affects heritable property in Scotland. It was the first of its kind in the world, dating back to the 1617 Registration Act of the old Scots Parliament.

The Land Register of Scotland is replacing the General Register of Sasines. The Land Register is a state guaranteed register of title to land, which results in the creation of a title sheet in which the extent of the property is shown on the Ordnance Survey map.

Increased interest in property information

Over the past year, Covid-19 restrictions appear to have led to a general increased interest in property information in Scotland. Our teams have received significantly more enquiries about properties during this period than ever before – perhaps connected to the fact that a lot more of us are now spending a lot more time at home.

And with the Scottish housing market having remained buoyant after an initial dip during the first lockdown, we are also finding that people have been keen to find out more about their assets and the potential for releasing capital from these.

What can you find out for yourself?

If you are keen to find information about a property in Scotland yourself, our flagship ScotLIS service provides quick and easy access to the Land Register. You can search by postcode or title number and instantly buy property information for £3 plus VAT which will be emailed to you directly.

The property information you receive will comprise of a title sheet and a title plan.

The title sheet is the official document that we provide relating to a particular property which may contain some or all, of the following:

  • property description
  • registered owners
  • securities or charges against the property
  • burdens or responsibilities

The title plan shows the position and boundary of registered properties and is based on the Ordnance Survey map.

What if I can’t find what I’m looking for on ScotLIS?

If you’re unable to find the property that you’re looking for on ScotLIS, we have a highly experienced searches team who can support you with more complex ownership requests.

There is a fee for us to conduct a full ownership search for a property with a postcode resulting in one title – this can provide you with ownership details as well as a chronology of deeds. We generally respond in email format but can supply a hard copy if requested – for both formats there would be an additional charge.

Some common examples and how these would be handled by the team are below.

The information pre-dates the Land Register

If you are unable to find a property, it is most likely to be because it is in the General Register of Sasines which pre-dates the Land Register.

In these cases, you can request for a specialist search of the General Register of Sasines to be carried out. This can be a complex task due to the age of the register.

If the title is in the General Register of Sasines, we will provide you with a copy of the register entry called a search sheet – a chronological list of deeds recorded against a property or area of land. Once you are in possession of the search sheet, you can then order any of the deeds noted on it. While it is possible that a plan will be attached to one of the deeds, there is no guarantee of this.

There is conflicting information or a lack of information

In some cases, there might be a difference in the postcode of the registered title, it might be registered under a previous address or there might not be enough information to positively identify the exact property in question.

If you contact us about one of these instances and our search team identifies that the property you’re looking for is registered, we would send you a link to allow you to purchase the title sheet and title plan yourself for £3 plus VAT.

The title is a pending application awaiting registration in the Land Register

In cases where we identify that the title is a pending application awaiting registration in the Land Register, we would provide you with a copy of the application record to show details of the title holder. The application record provides details of applications against a title number for which the registration process is not yet complete.

The application record should contain relevant information about the submitted application such as the date and status of the application, consideration paid, title number, applicant name, granter name, property address and deed type.

The application record does not have plans, however copies of any of the deeds on the application record can be ordered at a cost per deed. It is possible that a plan will be attached to one of the deeds but there is no guarantee of this.

What information do we not have access to?

While we always do our utmost to provide information or direction on property requests, it is important to note that we are not able to give you any legal advice. If you do require legal guidance then you must contact a solicitor.

There is also certain property information that we don’t have access to including:

  • when a property was built or who built it
  • a phone number or alternative address for a property owner
  • how many bedrooms a property has
  • floor plans
  • details of alterations or any building works on a property

In the case of a boundary dispute RoS can provide the information we hold on the properties in question for the appropriate fee. However, as registrars we are unable to offer legal advice so in these circumstances we would suggest that the view of a legal professional is sought.

You can get help tracing the history of buildings from National Records of Scotland.

If the property you’re looking for information on is rented then you may be able to find some useful contact information by searching the Landlord Register.

Gill Martin, Head of Customer Services and Property Information Team Leader, Kate Fryer.

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