Registered Title and a ‘maiden name’

I was recently contacted by a previous client whom we had purchased a home for in the joint name of her and her partner. At that time the property was registered in her name (maiden name) but shortly thereafter the client and her partner were married.

They immediately transferred all their bills, Council Tax, bank details, and other relevant matters into their joint married names but wanted to know if they had to, or should, change her name on the registered title at HM Land Registry to her new married name. If so how did they do it and could we estimate what the cost would be to have the name changed.

I explained to them that they did not need to change the name on the registered title (though they could if they wanted too) as there are no adverse consequences in her maiden name being shown on the title. They only needed to ensure that if they did a re-mortgage or a sale transaction that they were able to produce a certified copy of their UK Marriage Certificate as this would prove that she was the same as the person registered on the title and this would be sufficient to allow the transaction to go forward.

However, if they desired to change the registered title now they could contact the HM Land Registry directly, produce a certified copy of their UK Marriage Certificate, and this would be sufficient to verify the change of name and affect the change to the registered title. There is not normally a fee for this type of action.

If they were married abroad this can become a much more complicated issue as the HM Land Registry will need evidence that the Marriage Certificate is legitimate, and possibly a legally translated copy of the document. Again, they would contact the Land Registry directly to ascertain their requirements with regards to the foreign Marriage Certificate and then obtain whatever the Land Registry required before they would affect the change to your registered title.

They again could leave the title in her maiden name and simply deal with it at the time of a sale or re-mortgage as long as they were aware that it could delay the speed of that transaction as their instructed solicitor would have to ascertain from the Land Registry their requirements as above, then advise them of what was needed, and the transaction would not be able to proceed until the solicitor had in his/her possession all required supporting documentation so that they knew that the Land Registry would be satisfied that they had sufficient evidence of the change of name.

It must be noted in a sale transaction their selling solicitors would have to provide the required documentation to the buying solicitor for confirmation that they were satisfied that enough was there to satisfy the Land Registry. However, some purchasing solicitors might require the selling solicitors to affect the change of name on the registered title before they would be willing to proceed.

Either way it would very likely delay a sale or re-mortgage transaction for a period of time whilst the name issue was resolved.

The clients were also advised that if they affected the change of name themselves that they should ensure that the Land Registry has their correct address for service of any notice on the registered title in case the Land Registry ever needed to contact them regarding any matters affecting their title.

Lastly the clients were reminded that it is important that they are aware that title documents are no longer maintained as proof of title, and that the HM Land Registry records of registered title are now the sole evidence of ownership but any pre-registration title deeds they hold could be of value during any future transaction so they should keep such in a safe secure location to supply to their instructed solicitors for use if needed.

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