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Have your say: Property documents

The documents can relate to works, searches and guarantees
The documents can relate to works, searches and guarantees
Millions of homeowners now have to safeguard important property documents as lenders clear out their stores.

Mortgage providers Cheltenham & Gloucester and Nationwide have begun sending out the material to their customers.

We asked for your comments, a selection of which are below. This debate is now closed.


I was interested to hear your piece on property documents as I have recently re-mortgaged my house.

Imagine my surprise... to find my house deeds in a soggy parcel on the doorstep
Karen Woods
Imagine my surprise on returning home one rainy evening to find my house deeds in a soggy parcel on the doorstep.

The conveyancer had, without warning, despatched them by second class post.

The postman couldn't fit them through the letter box and left them on the step.

Surely they could have used recorded delivery at the very least? They were accompanied by an enigmatic letter claiming paper copies of the documents are obsolete. What would have happened had they been stolen?
Karen Woods, Hampshire

I think this is an excellent idea! Why should lenders hold my property documents? I am perfectly capable of storing important papers.

I haven't lost my passport, driving licence or television licence at any time. Stop supporting the nanny state!
Bob Brown, Leicester

I think the best thing to do is have the lender send a copy to the homeowner and keep the original in the database. You will be covered on both ends.
James Roman, Pennsylvania

This is nothing new. I believe Bristol & West returned title documents several years ago for the same reason.
Simon Higginson, Norwich

I think it is madness to get rid of a paper trail. Evidence on paper as well as in the Land Registry Office is essential.

Putting the details only on a computer leaves the system open to fraud. I have had four computers over a period of time and have to work on them through my job.

There are crooks out there ready to hack into computers who can change details at will
Heather Chivers, Harrow
Only a fool would completely trust putting financial details or property details on a computer hard drive.

Not only do computers crash eventually, but there are crooks out there ready to hack into computers who can change details at will.

Identity theft is something that is on the increase and here we are with building societies getting rid of deeds which are extremely important if those deeds are destroyed at the Land Registry or Companies House.

We need the double evidence of these important papers in the building societies as well as the Land Registry.

Knowing computers the way I do there should be back-up discs, but even these can get corrupted and won't work.

Then there is the march of progress and the old discs won't work on the new computer operating systems. Data will be lost.
Heather Chivers, Harrow

Once you have paid off your mortgage you have to keep the deeds anyway, and this tends to be both insecure and a nuisance.

I would like to see the Land Registry store all deeds' contents electronically. This way no inconveniences could arise on sale.

Also there is no reason why the property owner should not have an electronic copy on a CD or DVD.

It's about time the process of house buying and selling came into the 21st Century.
Derek, Craven Arms

I've had my deeds held by Halifax Deedstore for many years which gives me peace of mind.
Barry Gorman, Preston

I paid off my mortgage several years ago, received the deeds and gave them to my solicitor, who is storing them in his huge 1930s safe for free.

My solicitor... is storing them in his huge 1930s safe for free
Alastair Scott, London
I don't know if free storage is the norm but, even if I had to pay, I would much prefer doing it this way rather than entrusting them to an anonymous company.

The thought of wrangling with a call centre if they got lost appals me!
Alastair Scott, London

Many other major lenders have also stopped keeping them, and in a recent remortgage that I went through the new lender's solicitors didn't even want to see the deeds, even through the lender hasn't yet gone down this path.

Clearly the Land Registry information is enough.

The only "new" thing here is that they're actually sending them back having stored them for a while.

You wouldn't expect to give your car registration document to the company that provides you with a loan
Paul
It's essential that home owners keep their own deeds for when they sell the property, but not for proof of ownership, only for the odd query that might arise during the transaction.

Even then, Title Insurance seems to cover most eventualities today at relatively low cost.

As for who is responsible for keeping title deeds, you wouldn't expect to give your car registration document to the company that provides you with a loan to buy a car, or to have to pay to store it with a solicitor or bank deposit box, and I can't see any reason for doing so with title deeds.

Mine are in my kitchen drawer.
Paul, Norwich

Very clearly this is going to be a "dogs breakfast" of a system with some purchasers getting important relevant information and others not.

The parcel of documents can be immense.

I see problems with boundary ownership for example, where one person has the information and his neighbour does not.

It seems that the government, for it is it which has brought about these changes, is altering a system that has worked for years to one which will have created immense confusion. And, the only beneficiaries will be the legal profession.
John, Leeds

I for one will be moving my mortgage away from my lender as soon as possible in protest
David

This is clearly another example of the banks and building societies jumping on any opportunity to cut costs and increase their already massive profits.

I for one will be moving my mortgage away from my lender as soon as possible in protest.
David, Bristol

I bought my house just over a year ago through the Woolwich and was amazed to receive the deeds when the sale was complete.

They go back to the early 20th Century. It was fascinating to read through them.

I have always resented the fact that I never got to really study the deeds on previous houses and I'm thrilled to have them now.

Currently they are in a box file on a shelf.
Sally, Milton Keynes

I echo the advice that borrowers should keep safe any papers returned by their mortgage lender.

We do not charge for storing papers as I would much rather know where to find them when my clients want to sell
Matthew Stubbs, solicitor
I am a property solicitor and when we are dealing with a lender who no longer holds the deeds, we often waste a lot of time at the beginning tracking down missing papers which causes an unhelpful delay.

Clients then have to spend extra money paying for copies of missing planning permissions, guarantees and so on.

We do not charge for storing papers as I would much rather know where to find them when my clients want to sell their property!

Sadly this is another example of mortgage lenders cutting costs at the expense of good customer service, especially when some still insist on charging a "deeds administration fee" - for what?!
Matthew Stubbs, London

This is a win-win situation for the banks. They reduce their storage costs by returning these documents, and then they will receive more profits when people become nervous about where to safely store them and pay money to the banks - or solicitors - to do it for them.

This move does not appear to be in the best interest of customers. I am surprised.

The banks are not helping themselves in the PR stakes, especially in the light of the recent irresponsible lending news stories.
Vanessa Jacznik, Leeds

I'm surprised at this article because over a year ago my lender sent me all this through the post, in an unsealed envelope and with very little apology for the potential loss of enclosures.

I don't mind looking after them. In fact it was interesting reading
Doug M
I don't mind looking after them. In fact it was interesting reading. But please ensure they're not mishandled on dispatch, or intercepted.

Plus there was not even a covering letter explaining why all these (what I thought were important) documents had arrived on my doorstep.

I was also told none of them were important, which appears not to be the case when you consider various guarantees and so on are enclosed. Poor show!
Doug M, Luton

Certainly it costs the lenders to keep them. However, it must be more efficient to have a few safe storage locations.

I'm sure that many people would pay a modest fee to have the documents kept by the building society.

This ought to be a lot less than the charge for a bank safety deposit box, of which there seems to be a shortage.
Tony Corless, Leeds

The return of the title deed documents to customers is a good idea if it will help the customers.

Is this another attempt by mortgage lenders to maximise their earnings through cost-saving?
Bernard
Would the mortgage lenders reduce the cost of the mortgages on their customers since there will be cost-saving on storage?

Or is this another attempt by mortgage lenders to maximise their earnings through cost-saving?
Bernard, London

Interesting. At the same time, Abbey wrote to all its customers - received on 3rd May - stating that from 11 May they will be charging 225 for "looking after your mortgage" and "closing it down".

So no choice there then.
Christine Stewart Munro, London

Sounds like a good money-spinner, especially for the big banks. Now they don't store them they can't charge me a 100 to look at them, but they'll make the money back by charging us for deposit boxes to keep them safe!

I'm not sure I'm all that happy only having electronic records. One typo and the people next door own your house.
Bob Connell, Wales

The comments we publish are not necessarily the views of the BBC but will reflect the balance of views we have received. It is helpful if contributors state if they work for any organisation relevant to an issue discussed. Readers should form their own views on whether messages published represent undeclared interests, or views prompted by a common source.



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SEE ALSO
Homeowners must keep deeds safe
21 May 05 |  Moneybox
Homeowners face document worry
20 May 05 |  Moneybox


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