12th December 2016

Scotland’s land ownership system is changing, with a drive to get all landholdings onto a digital, map-based register. For owners, moving to Scotland’s land register brings greater clarity and security.

The Land Register of Scotland is a publicly-accessible, digital register of land ownership. Once complete, it is intended to deliver a full picture of who owns Scotland, and make buying and selling property easier, faster and cheaper.

The land register is replacing the General Register of Sasines, which marks its 400th anniversary next year. The sasine register is deeds-based and relies on verbal descriptions of property boundaries. The land register, in contrast, defines precise boundaries and shows exactly who owns what using an online map.

The land register began in 1981, and since then land and property titles have been gradually transferring over from the sasine register, mainly when a property is sold.

However, since many properties rarely change hands, much land remains on the older register. At present, around 60 per cent of property titles, relating to just under 30 per cent of Scotland’s land, are on the modern land register.

Scottish ministers have asked Registers of Scotland, (RoS), responsible for land and property registration, to complete the land register by 2024 and to register all publicly owned land by 2019.

With 70 per cent of Scotland’s land still to be registered, what happens next?

All property must be digitally registered on the Land and Property Register by 2024
Voluntary registration: To accelerate the transfer of titles, RoS is encouraging owners of larger landholdings, including farms, rural estates and public and commercial property, to voluntarily move their titles to the register.
RoS is offering a 25 per cent discount on voluntary registration fees until at least mid-2019
Sasines Register CLOSED 1st April 2016 to standard securities. This means any re-mortgage will trigger a move to the Land Register.

Why use Munro & Noble to register your property?

  • We have a large team of dedicated property professionals that have experience of interpreting title deeds held on the Sasines register.
  • We have access to RoS’s team of dedicated advisers
  • We operate an in-house title checking service
  • We have access to surveyors that can digitally map your property.

What RoS is saying:

‘The voluntary registration allows property owners the opportunity to clarify their exact boundaries, ironing out any uncertainties between neighbouring properties. Moving to the lands register also simplifies property management, and reduces the costs of future transactions. And titles on the land register include a state-backed warranty, giving protection against claims of adverse possession.'

Mapping for registration

Since the land register is map-based, applicants must submit a plan of their property, showing their full legal boundaries on a digital picture. Many landowners are finding the mapping process beneficial in itself, since this is often the first time their land has ever been mapped.

However, interpreting the information in the sasine register can be tricky, especially for larger landholdings or where ownership deeds date back decades or even centuries.

Other routes to the land register

The other major initiative to expand the coverage of the land register is ‘keeper-induced registration’ or KIR. This allows the keeper of the Registers of Scotland to move titles to the land register without the owner having to make an application. Initially this will be done on a small scale within urban, residential areas of Glasgow, Midlothian and Angus, starting in November 2016. A full roll-out will follow, beginning in April 2017.

For larger landholdings, voluntary registration is the best option, as it allows owners to use their expert knowledge of their property to register its exact boundaries.

For more information

To discuss land register completion, in the first instance please email our senior partner Bruce Miller at legal@munronoble.com

The Scottish Highlands - Who owns Scotland? Munro Noble asks the question