Even if nobody around knows the owner of a piece of land, finding out who the land owner is in the UK is relatively easy. There are land registers in the various countries that can be accessed for a fee and in England and Wales, almost all the land is registered. The Sasines Register and the Register of Deeds in Scotland and Northern Ireland can help you to find out even the owners of unregistered land as long as you have an accurate address or location on the map.
The preliminary steps
1. Do an internet search: It’s fast and it’s painless and if it yields the correct results, it will make your work much easier. Searching for an address can reveal information about the landowner and there are also online land registries such as whoownsscotland.org.uk that you can access for a fee.
2. Ask the neighbours: The neighbours can sometimes help you to know who the owner of a piece of land is. In a close knit community, you can even ask in communal areas such as pubs.
3. Check the electoral role: The local council should have information about the electoral role. If the address is registered to someone in the role, you’ll know.
Using the land registry in England and Wales
Consulting the land registry is necessary if you can’t get any information from asking around or if you’d just like to confirm the information you’ve been given. The registry is online and you can search for the information if you have the address or if you know the exact location of the land. A basic search will cost you three pounds but you can access even more information for an extra amount. Searching using the map is important if you’re missing the address. Searching by map allows you to zoom in on the area of interest and list the available properties.
Using the Land Register of Scotland
The registers of Scotland website will allow you to search for a land owner if you know the address but the search by map feature isn’t available. You can find the same feature on the whoownsscotland.org.uk site but this will require a subscription. On the registers of Scotland site, it takes up to 2 business days to get the answers you want. A different way that you can search on this site is by using a plan that also shows the neighbouring features. This type of search costs 24 pounds and results take 2-5 days.
Using the Land registry in N. Ireland
To access this registry, you’ll have to go to a Land and Property Services Customer Information Centre near you. The centre staff will help you to carry out the search. You can search on the land registry map with the centre staff if the land is registered. The search costs 5 pounds. If you can’t find the information there, you can also check the registry of deeds. All the records from 1990 have been digitised.