Where to Store House Deeds Safely and Securely in the UK
- Published: Nov 14/2020
- Last update: Nov 11/2022
- 8min read
- Views: 6,993
You are a proud owner of a beautiful house or cosy flat. You’ve paid your mortgage off and now you’re entitled to have your house deeds handed over by your mortgage provider.
But where should you store them, so they are safe and sound?
A legit question that many folks ask themselves. Not to mention that you could be a multiple property owner, who rents out several apartments and a family house. Well, then, you’ll definitely benefit from reading further to learn how to store your house deeds safely and securely, as you’ve got more than one place to worry about, of course.
So, if you:
Then, read on, as we’ll delve into these matters in more detail.
Property deeds, also called title deeds (house deeds) are official documents, which state the ownership of a property, be it a piece of land or a building. In addition, sale, lease or mortgage contracts, as well as wills, can be also included in all the legal documentation as part of the title deeds.
In terms of what deeds look like, they have undergone, historically, many transformations. The written declaration of property ownership in an official legal document goes back for centuries in the UK and over the years, the paperwork has changed, in terms of size and appearance. For instance, a couple of hundred years ago, title deeds were as big as 1-sq. m. pieces of paper. Today, you’ll actually find that since 2013, the deeds have been kept in a digital form only, as long as the property has been registered with the Land Registry, where you can get only a copy from should you not have the original paperwork.
Still, many property owners have their original paper documents for various reasons, such as they’ve long paid their mortgage well before the year of 2013 or they’ve received them directly from the previous owner of the house, upon signing up the property deal, etc.
And these folks often lose sleep over the dilemma of where to keep their house deeds – at home or somewhere else that’s more secure.
Where to keep house deeds safe, as mentioned earlier, is on most homeowners’ mind. This applies to those, who have the original paperwork or a hard copy, issued by the HM Land Registry, as owners are prompted to register their property in the Electronic Land Register. The situation with the latter scenario applies to folks, who simply don’t want to pay again for acquiring the copies if they got lost.
So, if you’ve ever wondered about who holds the deeds to your house, the above governmental institution is the legally responsible body that keeps all the records of property registration and ownership in the UK, though, now in an electronic form.
Right then, before we explore the best options for keeping house deeds secure, let’s find out whether you need to get hold of a copy of the deeds or the original ownership document in the first place (if say, you’ve lost them or you’ve never seen them before).
Well, “Do I need title deeds?” has a straightforward answer, provided by the HM Land Registry. If the property and its ownership have been registered with them, then, in a way, no one can dispute the fact that you own your house. Or in other words, you can always prove this fact by obtaining a copy of the deed if necessary or confirm your ownership by checking out the registration records online. But of course, as the deeds can contain various important pieces of information, it doesn’t hurt to have the hard copy of the documentation at hand.
To explore the matter further, what about when you’re about to sell your house? Do you need the house deeds then? Again, you’re not legally required to provide the buyer with the deeds, as long as the property has been registered with the Land Registry. And in any case, this is generally the job of the solicitor or conveyancer, who is representing you during the sale process. They’ll proceed with obtaining any such legal documents from the relevant authorities.
If the property hasn’t been registered for any reasons, then, presenting your proof of ownership will be a matter of importance.
Last but not least, we should emphasise again here that mortgage payers will not have their deeds until the last instalment has been paid in full, meaning, you may have never seen what your house deeds look like if the bank still owns your house legally.
Considering that we’ve just mentioned that you can somewhat relax if your property is on record with the Land Registry, where you can always access your digital deeds, then why worry about keeping the original paperwork safe, when you can get a copy from the relevant governmental entity when needed?
You see, original documentation more often than not contains extra important information, related to either or both the property itself and any consecutive changes of ownership that might have taken place over the years. Things like information on boundaries, boundary ownership (helpful in neighbours’ disputes), right of access, building regulation consents, special building certificates, contracts of sale, leases, wills, mortgages, planning matters and so on can all be, in effect, inseparable part of your title deeds. And in a situation where you want to sell your house, the buyer has every right to see those.
And let’s not forget that virtual safekeeping in this modern age is not necessarily sufficient and 100% secure, as hackers’ attacks and other cloud-related mishaps, taking place in the future, cannot be ruled out completely as a possible risk.
So, let’s see where best to keep your house deeds safe and sound:
It goes without saying that standard storage units in your home, like the filing cabinet in your study or a drawer in your bedroom, are out of the question here as safekeeping solutions because they are not secure enough against burglary, fire or flooding.
So, your options for safe storage of house deeds at home come down to one thing – a fireproof and waterproof safe box, regardless of its shape, size, price, whether it is stationary or portable, or what the supplier has decided to call it.
You may come across storage boxes that are called document chests, deed boxes or document boxes, which are all essentially fire-resistant up to 60 minutes, depending on their type and price. They will all have a secure locking mechanism via a code combination.
Furthermore, to store your house deeds safely, you can get a small house safe that can accommodate other of your valuables and not just your property paperwork and other important documents.
Get instant access to your valuables with the help of 24/7 safe locksmiths.
Can’t get to your house deeds, kept in a safe?
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Well, improving the overall security of your home is worth doing not just to keep your deeds safe. Surely, you’ve got all sorts of valuable items like IT equipment and whatnot. You can hire an expert to install a burglar alarm and this way, protect more effectively your property, especially if you keep your deeds in a portable safe box and have other valuables that can be easily picked and taken away in a bag.
Another smart thing to do is to register your title deeds and any other valuables with immobolise.com, a reputable service provider that helps people and businesses recover their stolen items, in collaboration with the Police.
Last but not least, you can easily and affordably install wireless CCTV cameras on your property and safeguard it this way. This is one of the smartest decisions you can make to enhance the safety of your possessions.
Did you find this post on how to store your house deeds safe helpful? Where do you keep yours? Do share with us in the comment section below!
Image source: Shutterstock / Matt Benoit