Briefing Note

Land Registry Plans – What are the Requirements?

December 2020

Please note that this Briefing Note is not maintained, and reflects the law as at the date of publication or update

Introduction

In this Briefing Note, we take a look at the Land Registry’s requirements in respect of plans to be used in documents that must be registered at the Land Registry and we provide some general advice to aid in their preparation.

This Briefing Note must not be relied upon as legal advice and you should contact us for advice on your specific circumstances.

Many legal documents, such as transfer deeds and leases, rely on plans to show the extent of the property which is the subject of the transaction. Where plans are required, they form an integral part of the legal document and are a key component in its interpretation. For registrable dispositions (that is to say, transactions which require registration at the Land Registry, which includes transfer deeds relating to part of a property, leases and deeds of easement), any plan which forms part of the registrable document must comply with the Land Registry’s requirements.

Whilst the preparation of a Land Registry compliant plan may seem like a hassle, the consequences of not getting registered can be very serious (although a discussion on this point is beyond the scope of this Briefing Note).

The Land Registry’s requirements are (very briefly) as follows:

1. The plan must be drawn accurately to a stated scale

The most commonly used scales for Land Registry compliant plans are 1:1250 and 1:500 for properties which are in urban or developed areas and 1:2500 for rural land. Other scales can be used, provided that the property can be identified in sufficient detail. Any scales used must be based on metric measurements.

2. The plan must show its orientation

The plan must have a north point to show its correct orientation.

3. The plan must show sufficient detail of surrounding features

In order for the Land Registry to be able to identify where the property in question is situated and to accurately produce a new title plan (or to update an existing title plan), the transaction plan must show sufficient surrounding detail so as to enable the property to be identified on the Ordinance Survey map (which forms the basis of all Land Registry title plans). Surrounding details may include roads, other buildings and other features in the vicinity of the property as shown on the Ordinance Survey map.

4. The plan must not be marked ‘Draft’ or ‘For identification only’ or ‘Do not scale from this drawing’

Any plan which is submitted to the Land Registry must not include any of the above phrases – or any similar phrases indicating that the plan is a draft or that it cannot be relied upon. Whilst these phrases can be of assistance where the plan is in draft form at the early stages of a proposed transaction, the final form plan used in the transaction documents must not include such wording.

5. The plan must clearly show the extent of the property which is the subject of the transaction

The plan must show the whole of the property which is the subject of the transaction. If the property is shown by edging, then there must be no gaps – the boundary must be continuous so as to completely encircle the property.

Any colours can be used on the plan, but the convention in property transfer plans is that the property which is the subject of the transaction is shown edged in red, any retained land is edged in green, rights of way benefitting the property are shown by brown colouring and rights of way affecting the property are shown by blue colouring. Colouring can be used in place of edging, provided that details are not obscured. Responsibility for boundaries is usually indicated by an inward facing ‘T’ mark, with the side on which the ‘T’ mark is placed indicating ownership/responsibility of that particular boundary.

6. The plan must clearly state on which level the property is situated

This mainly applies to leases, where if the property is on a particular floor of a building, the plan should specify which floor the detail on the plan relates to. Where a property covers several different floors, then a separate plan should be used for each floor (unless all the detail can all be placed on one page clearly identifying the separate levels).

7. A lease of internal parts of a building should show the precise extent of the property being let

In the case of a building which is let to several different tenants, with the Landlord retaining responsibility for the maintenance of the main structure of the building, the lease plan should show the property by reference to the internal layout of the let property. This will usually show the red edging being placed on the inside surface of the walls of each room that form the property, specifically excluding the structural elements and other common parts of the building (such as staircases and entrance halls). Common parts are usually shown by different coloured edging. Leases of internal parts of a building usually contain very detailed plans.

Plan Preparation Tips

 Bear in mind the following tips when preparing plans for use in legal documents:

  1. Consult with your solicitor early in the transaction as to what detail needs to be shown on the plan so that the plan can easily be integrated into the transaction documentation.
  2. If you are unable to prepare the plan yourself so as to comply with the Land Registry’s requirements, seek professional assistance from somebody who can prepare scale property plans. A properly drawn plan, usually for relatively modest cost, will save a lot of trouble in the long run, as it should be produced to be compliant with the Land Registry’s requirements from the outset. If you need multiple plans for an estate, or for the floors of a building, why not consider having all of the relevant areas mapped at the same time for future use?
  3. Avoid using colours on the same plan which, when printed, are difficult to differentiate (such as orange and brown, blue and mauve or red and pink), particularly where these shades may be in very close proximity to one another. Print the plan to check whether the proposed colours will cause difficulty – printed colours can look quite different to how they appear on screen. The Land Registry will raise an issue if they cannot differentiate the colours on the plan, which may delay or even prevent registration.
  4. Make sure the plan specifies what size of paper it should be printed on (e.g. 1:1250 at A4) so that it is clear what page size needs to be used.
  5. If you are to print the plan yourself, beware printer settings which set the plan to print at a specified page size (such as ‘fit to page’ or other page scaling options). This distorts the scale on the printed version, meaning that the detail shown is no longer displayed at the scale stated on the plan. No page scaling options should be used when printing.
  6. In connection with the above point, whilst not essential, inclusion of a bar scale on the plan is helpful in being able to check that a plan is printed correctly by simple use of a scale ruler. This is helpful in picking up printer setting errors.
  7. Avoid using photocopies of previous plans – it is common for distortions in scale to creep into the copies of the plan, as well as degradation in the plan quality which can make the plan harder to interpret.
  8. Ask yourself: when looking at the proposed transaction plan in isolation, if you knew nothing of the property, would you be able to accurately identify the property and its dimensions using the plan alone? If not, the plan is likely to be unacceptable.

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