Land Registry fees

Anyone buying a property will be advised by their Solicitor that there are certain outlays to be incurred in addition to the Solicitor’s fee. One of these outlays is the registration fee. This fee – as is clear from its description – relates to the cost of registering the person’s ownership of the property. There are two types of registration – Land Registry and Registry of Deeds. Most property is registered in the Land Registry. If the property you are buying is registered in the Land Registry, you have to pay Land Registry fees. If the property you are buying is not registered in the Land Registry – what is called unregistered land – your ownership of the property has to be registered in the Registry of Deeds. The Registry of Deeds charges are clear and simple. As of now the cost of registration is €44 per document. Most people buying property will have to register two documents, the Purchase Deed and the Mortgage Deed. So the cost will be €88. These fees are due to go up in May 2008 to €50 per document. The Land Registry fees are considerably more obtuse and irrational – not to say esoteric. If you buy a second hand land registry property for less than €255,000, the land registry fee will be €375. You will also have to pay €125 to register your mortgage. If you buy a property for more than €255,000 and less than €385,000, the land registry fee is €500 plus €125 for the mortgage. If you purchase for more than €385,000 the charge will be €625 plus €125 for the mortgage. That’s the simple part. If you buy a new house (not apartment) the registration fee will depend on how the purchase price is structured. When you buy a new property the price is normally divided into two parts, the site price and the building cost. The registration fee is calculated on the site price. So if you buy a new property for, say, €500,000 and the price is divided into €50,000 for the site and €450,000 for the building cost, you will pay Land Registry fees of €250 to register the purchase, €60 to open a new folio and €125 to register the mortgage. However if the price is integrated into one contract where the site price and building cost are not divided – which is often the case – the fee to register the purchase will be €625,  together with €60 to open a new folio and €125 to register the mortgage. There is a discrepancy of €375 between these two charges. There is no logic to any of this. If you buy a new apartment the charges will be as follows: €85 to register the ownership of the apartment, €60 to register the new lease and €125 to register the mortgage. These charges are considerably less than the charges for registering the new house. There is no reason for this. In fact from the Land Registry’s point of view there is more work involved in registering the new apartment than registering the new house. This whole cost structure needs to be overhauled and simplified. It is costing the purchaser and is user unfriendly. It also makes it difficult for the Solicitor to quantify the actual Land Registry charges. As a consequence purchasers are – more often than not – being overcharged. The Registry of Deeds are increasing their charges shortly. I am not aware that the Land Registry are planning something similar. However with the movement towards e-conveyancing i.e. the move towards having the conveyancing process transacted over the internet, there is push by the Government to have all property registered in the Land Registry. In due course the Land Registry will be the only registration system and the Registry of Deeds will become redundant. In this context there is an urgent need to rationalise the Land Registry costs structure to something similar to the Registry of Deeds system.