HM Insights

Land Registration in Scotland – one year down, nine (or four) to go ...

So there are now only four years for all public authorities to register their land and nine years for everyone else. This affects all land and buildings in Scotland, regardless of whether they are residential, commercial, rural or urban.

Property in Scotland is in the midst of a seismic shift. Land registration was first brought into Scotland in 1979, yet by 2014 only about 24% of Scotland's land mass was registered.

The new Land Registration targets are ambitious, but are combined with a statutory overhaul of property and land registration in Scotland. The new Land Registration etc (Scotland) Act 2012, which came fully into force in December 2014, is geared towards speeding up registration. More transactions involving land now trigger compulsory registration than ever before. For example, landlords granting leases for more than 20 years (whether for a retail development, windfarm, agricultural estate or any other type of property) now have to register their land as well as the lease.

Race to the Register

The unprecedented push towards registering all of Scotland's property by 2024 means that as more owners define their land and rights, those who do not – or who don't register correctly – can be caught out.

Some see this as a "Race to the Register", since the last owner in an area to register their land will effectively have their boundaries defined by reference to their neighbours' registered titles rather than being in control of what is registered in their own name.

Opportunities

Importantly, this new regime also provides an unprecedented chance for landowners to take control over their property and to register it quicker than ever before. Much more emphasis is given to the owner's own understanding of their land and what they actually possess. Unwritten access rights and similar rights can be registered for the first time. Old, complex titles can be transferred into more user-friendly, State backed registered titles which will be easier and cheaper to deal with in the future.

Careful and expert advice on this vastly changing area can save time, frustration and money in the long run. The next few years will change the face of Scotland and we can provide market leading solutions to help make the most of that.