A title deed is a legal document which is used to prove ownership of a piece of property. Most commonly, title deeds are used as evidence of ownership for homes and vehicles, although technically a deed of title could be issued for another form of property. In many regions of the world, a title deed confers certain rights and privileges on the person who holds it, and such deeds are necessary in situations where people want to transfer ownership of their property.
A typical title deed includes a description of the property in question, worded in such a way that it cannot be confused with another property, along with the name of the person who legally holds the property; multiple people can also be listed on a title deed. An official seal is used to indicate that the deed has been recorded, and it is usually signed by the owner and a witness, who may be a regional official or clerk.
Title deeds do not necessarily imply possession. For example, if Mary Jones buys a car and her name is listed on the title, she could still loan her car out to a friend. Or, Mary Jones could buy the car with a loan, which might mean that the bank would hold the title as security, but she would possess the car. Likewise, Bob Mackay could purchase a home, receiving the title deed for the property, and then rent it out, so his tenants would have possession. In these examples, the rightful owner of the property could retake possession, using the title deed to enforce his or her rights.
Typically, title deeds are kept in a safe place, because they are official legal documents, and getting a new legal copy if a deed is lost or stolen can be a pain. Many people like to make copies of their title deeds in case the original is lost or damaged so that they have a temporary measure in place. Because a physical title deed can be used to initiate a transfer of ownership, it is a good idea to keep such deeds in a secure location so that they cannot be stolen and used to transfer the property to someone else.
When a property is sold, a new title deed is issued with the owner's name. However, sometimes people don't want to sell property, but they do want to add someone to the title, for one reason or another. People should think carefully before doing this, because once someone's name is on the title, he or she has legal control of the property, and this can become a problem. In order to add someone, it is necessary to go to an agency which handles title deeds, like a Department of Motor Vehicles for cars, or a title company for real estate, and then a written request is filled out to issue a new deed with the additional name or names.