What Is Registered Land?

Renee Booker

In many jurisdictions, title to land may be legally recorded as "registered land." The precise legal difference between registered land and abstract land, or non-registered land, may vary by jurisdiction. In most cases, registered land is title to land, which is essentially guaranteed by the government to be free of clerical or land examiner errors and the boundaries are guaranteed to be accurate.

The Torrens system of land registration was developed in the 1800s in South Australia.
The Torrens system of land registration was developed in the 1800s in South Australia.

The original concept for registered land started back in the 1800s in Australia. Sir Robert Torrens, who was the Colonial Treasurer and Register for South Australia, came up with the idea of reforming the registration system for land to assure property owners that the title to their land was accurate and legal. In 1858, the Torrens Bill was enacted in South Australia, which served as the foundation and inspiration for other jurisdictions to enact similar legislation. To this day, registered land is often referred to as "Torrens land."

Many individual states within the United States use the concept of Torrens land. The benefits to having a title that is registered are many. In most states, when title to land has been registered, the state government guarantees that the title is free of any potential clerical or recording errors. In addition, the boundaries noted on the title are also guaranteed to be correct and accurate. An owner of title to land that has been registered may also be entitled to an automatic notification if a lien is placed on the property.

Some states also offer additional protections or benefits for using the registered land option. In Ohio, for example, a registered title is protected against adverse possession claims. Adverse possession is a legal concept that is sometimes referred to as "squatter's rights." An adverse possession may be made when a person has had possession of property for a lengthy period of time and holds it out to be his or her property. When title to land is registered, a person may not claim adverse possession regardless of whether he or she has had possession of the property, or part of the property, for any length of time.

When title to land is transferred, a private title insurance company is often used to check the title before transfer to a new owner. Although registered land is guaranteed by the government to be accurate and free or errors, a private title insurance company may be still be required by lender. A title insurance company will trace the title to the land to be sure it is a clear title; however, they may not check things such as whether or not the boundaries are accurate, making registering your title valuable if it is an option.

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