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What is a Title Deed?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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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.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a SmartCapitalMind researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon347842 — On Sep 10, 2013

If I sign my land rights over, can I get them back?

By anon336478 — On May 29, 2013

I want to know why the title deed to my mother's house has the names for next door. We have been in and out with the municipality and lawyers and still the house is not yet listed in my mother's name, so I don't know what is taking place.

By anon330245 — On Apr 15, 2013

The description of a property indicates a single bedroom and a study in the Title Deeds. If the study is then used as a second bedroom, does the Title Deed description need to be altered?

By anon304158 — On Nov 18, 2012

Can a land be mortgaged by the grandchildren even if the title is still under the name of their grandparents who are already dead? The two sons are also both dead. That's why the land was under the care of the grandchildren now.

By anon275243 — On Jun 17, 2012

I am planning to buy land in the Philippines but am still under the mother title due to lack of budget to process the division of ownership. Is this safe? Can anyone can advise me on the advantage and disadvantages of this?

By anon270259 — On May 21, 2012

If land is in two peoples' names, can I sell it without their permission if we can agree on what to do with it?

By anon269835 — On May 19, 2012

I bought a house in the Philippines but It's on my sister name and my brother on the deed documents but my brother passed away five years ago. My sister pawned the deed documents. Is there a way that I can get my house to be transferred to me? If I have to get a lawyer, do I have a chance to get it back?

By anon260097 — On Apr 09, 2012

If four people's names are on title deeds, can we sell without all four giving permission?

By anon257087 — On Mar 25, 2012

I intend to pay off my mortgage. I asked the bank about the title deeds and they advise these are held by the Land Registry?

I want to check that is so because as the house is mine I assumed the deeds would be given to me (and then form me to decide where they should be held securely. Can anyone advise me?

By anon254278 — On Mar 12, 2012

My mother paid off her home in October of 2011 and on the lien it has her name and my sisters. Do they both have to go to the courthouse to request a copy of their lien or deed? She called the mortgage company and they said they could not provide a copy of the payoff.

Is there something that she needs to request from mortgage company to show she has paid off account, or will this be documented in the courthouse? She is disabled and it is difficult to transfer her to take her to the courthouse so I don't want to waste her time. Please advise.

By anon177439 — On May 18, 2011

Can two people (unrelated) purchase a property, say that overall costs £400K, and split it into two properties worth £100K and £300K based on relative worth of the individual 'new' properties created? Or does one person have to buy the overall property and sell part to the other? Trying to work out how to jointly buy but then individually own part of the overall place.

By anon146469 — On Jan 26, 2011

For anon34123: Yes. the title deed to your property will automatically be in Nationwide B/Scty's possession. Also, the deed will be updated in the county office stating that the current owner is B/Scty. But once you settle your debt, the deed will be given back to you.

By anon103693 — On Aug 13, 2010

our mortgage finished with nationwide crap in 2006.

they do not keep our deeds. they say on their web site that deeds are kept by the land registry.

By anon47980 — On Oct 08, 2009

my mum signed her house over to 5 members of the family some years before and has a life rent interest. she now has to go into care. can the 5 members sell the property to either pay for her care or can they selll and share the proceeds?

By anon34123 — On Jun 17, 2009

I have my mortgage with the Nationwide B/Scty but the title deeds to my property were sent to me 2 years ago when i left my old lender. Should these deeds be in the Nationwide B/Scty's possession?

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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