Under One Roof: A short guide to title deeds

27 September 2023

What are title deeds and where can you find them?

Title deeds are an essential part of a tenement building’s rules. But they can be tricky to read and navigate. Title deeds are proof of ownership of a building and contain rules that apply to the building. Over the last 35 years, title deeds have gradually been computerised and renamed as land certificates. But the land certificates are based on the original title deeds, so they are essentially the same. Land certificates might also be referred to as a Land Register entry.

Many computerised title deeds for registered properties are found in the Land Register of Scotland. For such properties, anyone can obtain a copy of the title deeds for a nominal fee.

If the property has not yet been recorded in the Land Register, the mortgage lender or the owner or their solicitor will usually hold the title deeds, most likely in the form of a bundle of documents dating back to the original sale of the property.

When someone buys a property, they should be given a copy of the land certificate or title deeds. Recent buyers may simply be sent an email with a link to the Land Register entry of the property.

Each land certificate, and many title deeds, will have the following sections:

  • a map showing the property boundaries
  • a property section – a description of where the property is and a list of rights in common
  • a proprietorship section – the owners name, amount paid for the property, and date of entry
  • a charges section – a list of mortgagors, etc.
  • a burdens section – your building’s rules will be found here

How to use title deeds

Title deeds are the first point of call when dealing with issues or repairs in a tenement building as they set out the building’s rules.

Title deeds can tell you about:

  • which parts of the building are commonly owned
  • common responsibility elements
  • mutual responsibility elements
  • individual responsibility elements
  • decisions that must be taken by all owners
  • how decisions should be made
  • management rules
  • main door flats, shops, etc. with no access to stair

Knowing this information can be useful for finding out shares of repair costs or who is responsible for which parts of the building, for example.

It is also possible to request or obtain land certificates or title deeds for another property if you know the address. This can be useful for common repairs if you want to find out the rules of a co-owner’s flat.

Problems with title deeds

If there are gaps in the title deeds of a property, the guidance in the Tenements (Scotland) Act 2004 must be followed for that particular case only.

For example, if a building needs a roof repair but the title deeds do not say anything about who is responsible for the roof, the Tenements (Scotland) Act must be followed. Under the Act, the roof is a common responsibility, so all owners must share the cost of a roof repair.

In another case, the title deeds might specifically say that in the building the close and stair are the mutual responsibility of some, but not all, owners. In this situation, the title deeds should be referred to instead of the Tenements Act.

Find out more information about title deeds on the Under One Roof website.

Download this building’s rules checklist to note down what the title deeds say for a particular building. This can make it easier to reference the building’s rules, rather than reading the original documents every time they are needed.

For more articles like this and other information on tenement maintenance and repair management visit the Under One Roof website.