An absolute title refers to complete ownership of a property which can be leasehold or freehold without any limitations or restrictions. When a property is registered with an absolute title, it means that the Land Registry has concluded that the ownership of the property is free from any defects.

These defects may include outstanding mortgages or claims from third parties. This type of title provides the highest level of security and protection to the property owner, as it is based on a thorough examination of the property’s title history. 

In contrast, a qualified title or a possessory title which you can read more up on here may indicate some uncertainties or limitations on the owner’s rights to the property.

What is the difference between a perfect and absolute title?

In the context of property law, a perfect title refers to a title that is free from any defects, liens, or encumbrances. A perfect title is also sometimes referred to as a marketable title because it is a title that can be easily transferred to a buyer without any legal issues or concerns.

On the other hand, an absolute title refers to a title that is free from any defects, liens, or encumbrances and is not subject to any possible challenge or claim from any other party. 

An absolute title is the highest form of title ownership, and it provides the owner with complete and total ownership of the property, free from any competing claims.

While both perfect and absolute titles represent forms of ownership that are free from defects or encumbrances, an absolute title is considered to be more secure because it is not subject to any possible challenge or claim. 

However, it’s important to note that an absolute title is a relatively rare and difficult standard to achieve, and most property titles are considered to be perfect titles rather than absolute titles.

Absolute title

How do absolute titles work?

When you’re thinking about buying real estate, it’s worth considering getting a title search done to avoid any potential issues with the title of the property. 

The good news is that there are agencies that specialise in researching properties to make sure that the seller has a “saleable” interest in the property they’re putting on the market.

Usually, a title search is conducted at the local registry office, and it can reveal any outstanding obligations associated with the property, such as unpaid taxes or any claims from a spouse. 

These obligations remain connected to the property and not the owner, meaning they could potentially impact the sale to a new owner until the matter is resolved.

It’s worth noting that if the property owner has an absolute title, it would make the transaction easier for the seller. An absolute title means that the property is free from any possible challenge or claim, making the transaction unhindered. 

Overall, while a title search can come at a cost, it’s definitely worth it to ensure that the transaction goes as smoothly as possible.

What disqualifies a property from being an absolute title?

When it comes to property ownership, having a clear title that is free of encumbrances is critical. You want to make certain that your property has absolute title, giving you a solid claim to ownership and protecting its value.

However, liens, attachments, or other encumbrances associated with the property raise red flags. These encumbrances can cause ownership disputes and potentially reduce the value of the property. 

As a result, it is critical to carefully examine the title to determine whether it truly is an absolute title.

How to figure out if you have an absolute title

One of the most important steps in the process of purchasing a home is obtaining title information. This will be handled by your conveyancing solicitor, who will obtain the title from HM Land Registry seen here. In addition, for a fee of £3, you can personally download the Title Register.

Part B of the Title Register, specifically the Proprietorship Register, contains useful information. Look for the section labelled “Title absolute” in big letters. 

This indicates that the title is precise and unambiguous.

The owner(s) or proprietor(s) of the property, their complete address, the price paid for the property, the date of the transaction, and any potential restrictions that may apply are all listed in this section of the register.

Keep in mind that if you just bought the property, it usually takes 2 to 3 months for the Title Register to be updated with the new ownership information.

Cash used to pay for absolute title

What kind of rights do you get with an absolute title?

When it comes to property ownership, absolute title is the best option. It means that there are no ongoing disputes or claims that could impair the owner’s ability to use or sell the property as they see fit. 

If the transaction is structured correctly, the buyer may even obtain absolute title upon completion of the transaction.It should be noted that a seller can only transfer the portion of absolute title that they own. So, if a seller does not have absolute title, a buyer cannot obtain it from that seller.

The owner has more freedom with an absolute title and instead of selling the property outright, they can lease or rent it out. A financial institution may hold absolute title to a mortgaged property in some cases, granting the owner the right to the mortgage deed. 

Under certain conditions, the owner has the authority to demand full repayment of the outstanding mortgage debt before the original due date. Furthermore, the absolute title may contain a provision that allows the owner to terminate an existing interest in the property ahead of time. 

This gives the owner more authority over the property.

In summary, an absolute title allows the owner to use, sell, lease, or terminate interests in the property as they see fit. It provides valuable rights and opportunities by ensuring clear and unencumbered ownership.

How is an absolute title affected?

When it comes to property ownership, having absolute title gives the owner complete control. They can freely sell the property as they please, transferring the same title to the buyer.

However, it’s important to note that not all properties automatically fall under the category of absolute title. There are two main reasons why HM Land Registry might not grant this form of ownership:

Not enough evidence

Certain factors determine whether a property has absolute title when it comes to property ownership. HM Land Registry will not grant absolute title if a property or land has never been registered and lacks sufficient legal documentation to prove ownership.

If you’re thinking about buying a property without absolute title, your conveyancer may advise you to get indemnity insurance. This type of insurance protects you from potential losses in the event that a third party asserts ownership.

Even if you don’t have immediate access to the property’s deed, it’s critical to be aware of the terms outlined in it. Inadvertently violating any of these terms can have serious consequences.

Title defects

When it comes to property ownership, there are some instances where a title defect may occur. When a borrower falls behind on their mortgage payments, this is one of the most common scenarios.

When you obtain a mortgage, the lender places a charge or lien on the property as collateral for the loan. 

If you fall behind on your payments, the mortgage company’s charge can render the title defective, limiting your ability to sell the property. If the arrears continue to mount, the mortgage company may even consider repossession in extreme cases.

Aside from mortgage-related issues, other potential title defects can arise. These can include mistakes in legal paperwork, unpaid taxes owed to HM Revenue & Customs, or disagreements with co-owners. For example, during divorce proceedings, one spouse’s claims may result in a faulty title.

It is critical to address these title defects as soon as possible to ensure a smooth transfer of ownership and avoid complications when selling the property. 

Working closely with legal professionals and resolving any outstanding issues, such as paying off arrears or settling disputes, can assist in correcting title defects.

Property owners must understand the potential causes of title defects and take proactive measures to resolve them. 

Maintaining a clear title and having a hassle-free experience when selling your property in the future can be achieved by staying on top of mortgage payments, ensuring accurate paperwork, and addressing any outstanding issues.

Property mortgage payments for absolute title

What other types of property titles are there?

There are two other main types of property titles that your property could be if it is not a title absolute

Possessory titles

Even if you don’t have immediate access to the property’s deed, it’s critical to be aware of the terms outlined in it. Inadvertently violating any of these terms can have serious consequences.

Because of these factors, properties with absolute title are generally more valuable than those with possessory or qualified title.

You can mitigate potential risks and ensure a smoother property ownership experience by understanding the importance of absolute title and taking appropriate measures such as obtaining indemnity insurance.

Qualified Titles

The term “qualified title” refers to the presence of certain flaws or reservations within the title itself. These flaws could include breaches of trust relating to specific clauses in the deed.

When a Qualified Title is assigned, it is important to understand that the state’s guarantee will not cover the title’s defective elements. This means that any issues or disputes that arise as a result of those defects will not be protected or resolved by the state’s guarantee.

While Qualified Title may not be as desirable as other types of titles and is definitely a disadvantage, it is critical to thoroughly assess and comprehend the specific defects or reservations associated with it before engaging in any real estate transactions. 

In summary

If all of these laws are too complicated for you, you can always form your own freehold with the leaseholders in your flat in an enfranchisement leasehold which gives you more rights and is a good reason for why someone would want to buy a leasehold.

For instance, you will never be given another section 20 and you will be able to have a good leasehold title rather than a title absolute.

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Donnell Bailey

Property expert

Donnell is a property expert focusing on the property market, he looks at a combination of legislation, information from property managers, letting agents and market trends to produce information to help landlords.


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