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What is a Registry of Deeds Search? – An Ellis & Ellis Explainer

In order to answer the above, we must first ask the question…what is a deed?

A deed can broadly be described as any written, attributable and executable document that has been signed, attested, and delivered (sometimes sealed), which authorises the transfer or re-assignment of a property, right or interest. 

In this blog, we are primarily considering deeds searching in connection with the transferring/ conveyancing of property title and/or associated rights or interests on land. As such, we need to consider how and where such deeds might be registered and how they might be searched against.

To that end, we turn to the office of the Registry of Deeds, which was established as a voluntary registration system in 1708. Its intended purpose has been to allow parties to register and file memorials of deeds or transfers of unregistered land.  

“Unregistered title” is defined by the Registry of Deeds as ‘…property the title to which is not registered or deemed to be registered in the Land Registry under the Registration of Title Act 1964. The existence of deeds in relation to such property should be recorded in the Registry of Deeds…’.

The ultimate utility of the services provided by the office of the Registry of Deeds is that they maintain a searchable register of such deeds. 

Why should the purchasing solicitor/ conveyancer conduct a Registry of Deeds search when investigating title in a property/ right/ interest purchase?

As part of title investigation in a property/ right/ interest purchase, there is an onus on the purchasing solicitor/ conveyancer to establish for their client the ownership of the property/ right/ interest being transferred or re-assigned.

For unregistered title, this may be accomplished by producing a ‘chain of title’ showing transfers of land up to and including the current owner. Subsequent searches against the current owner may also determine whether the owner has re-distributed any rights or interests or has transferred any areas of the original land since it came into their possession.

Secondly, the purchasing solicitor/ conveyancer must identify for their client whether there are any impediments or obstacles to obtaining ‘clean title’, such as burdens, liens or judgments, etc. 

Naturally if the purchasers require funding from a lending institution, the purchaser’s Solicitor are obliged by their undertaking to furnish good and marketable title for the lender. 

Moreover, further responsibility falls on the solicitor/ conveyancer to ensure good title when compulsory registration of ownership requirements (since 1st June 2011) is considered.

How and what to search for on the Registry of Deeds register?

First and foremost, it is important to state that unlike the Land Registry, the Registry of Deeds is not a property register.

The Registry of Deeds merely maintains a transactional register of deeds by grantors only. That is, a searchable ‘Index of Names’ for sellers, lessors or borrowers who have recorded transfers or re-assignments of a property, right or interest for unregistered title with the office of the Registry of Deeds.

Accordingly, as part of the purchasing solicitor’s/ conveyancer’s title investigation process, Registry of Deeds searches are conducted against three triangulated metrics, that is (a) the grantors names, (b) a specific property description and (c) a spread of years. 

The onus for which names, dates, and the provision of a proper description of the property in questions rests with the qualified purchasing solicitor/ conveyance.

Note: Ellis & Ellis, being specialists in this field, conduct all deeds searches by hand, and we strictly adhere to all Registry of Deeds recommended ‘official search’ protocols.


What details are recorded on a Registry of Deeds register search result?

A matching ‘hit’ or a match that cannot be readily discounted will provide (a) the registration reference/ serial number along with the date of registration, (b) the name and date of the Instrument (i.e., indenture), (c) the grantor, (d) the grantee, (e) the nature of instrument (e.g., assignment, conveyance, etc.) along with notes or details of considerations, (f) a description and situation of the premises, and (g) details of whether there are any vacates or satisfactions associated with the act.

Any acts identified as part of a Registry of Deeds search can be further explored, especially if the recorded detail on the register is sparse. This can be done by taking up copies of the memorials, which are a summary of the original deeds presented for registration. (Note: The original deed is returned upon completion of the registration process).

These memorials provide, albeit in a sometimes-rudimentary form, a synopsis of the deed and provide such details as the date of registration, the names and descriptions of all parties and witnesses to the deed and may provide a more comprehensive description of the property(ies) affected by the deed.

Use a trusted Law Search provider

Given the serious ramifications set out above of either not conducting a search at all, or worse, conducting an inadequate or erroneous Registry of Deeds search; it is imperative that purchasing solicitors/ conveyancers use a trusted law search provider such as Ellis & Ellis.

With our blend of a quick and easy-to-use ordering platform at www.ellis.ie , over 130 years of professional know-how, and a quality after-sales experience, we provide clients with a superior searching service. 

For added peace of mind Ellis & Ellis provide Professional Indemnity Cover of €10 million.

Why not join the 1000’s of users who trust Ellis & Ellis to deliver them a competitive edge?

Did you find the above information to be of interest? Why not check out one of our other Ellis & Ellis explainers for some related searches below; – 

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