Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Highland Titles Scam - Souvenir Land Plot Ownership In Scotland

Is the land you bought from souvenir plot vendors like Highland Titles actually even yours? That seems like a very simple question, but in reality it is not. You paid your money they sent you a document saying the land was yours so it must be right? Well, in the case of land sales in Scotland, not necessarily.

In Scotland the standard practice for property sales is for the sale of property to be recorded in the Scottish Land Register, the sale not being considered complete until this is done. Small plots like souvenir plots cannot be thus registered. "In accordance with Section 4b of the Registration of Land (Scotland) Act (1979) will not record “a piece of land ……… of inconsiderable size or no practical utility".

These small souvenir plots cannot be registered in the Scottish Land Registry. Inability to register a souvenir plot means that the purchaser can only get a personal right of ownership. He or she cannot get a real right protected by the state guarantee that underpins a registered title. There is no true purchase involved as no title can be obtained to the plot of land.

Should the vendor you bought the personal right of ownership from go out of business, it is very unlikely you would be able to re-claim the land, and I can see no reason why it could not be sold to a third party. This may be of little consequence to the one square foot owners as the loss would be small, but those with larger plots which can cost a considerable amount, might not be terribly happy

A Scottish Land Commission Report On Land Registration (Scot Law Com No. 222)

Paragraph 12.82 of Report 222
 "There are businesses that offer for sale small plots of land in remoter areas of Scotland, usually accompanied by the promise that buyers will be "entitled" to call themselves "lairds". Plot sizes vary but may be one square metre or even less. Usually buyers are assured that they will acquire ownership of the plot, though in the advertisements we have seen there is no explanation of how that could happen given the terms of the 1979 Act, discussed in the next paragraph. The websites sometimes show the type of deed that a buyer will receive. The style used is generally English or American."

Paragraph 12.83 of Report 222
"Section 4(2)(b) of the 1979 Act forbids the Keeper to accept souvenir plots for registration in the Land Register. Even if the land were unregistered, a conveyance of a souvenir plot could not be recorded in the Register of Sasines, because it would be a conveyance for value. Accordingly it is difficult to see how customers could acquire ownership of souvenir plots. We have seen it suggested that the non-registrability of souvenir plots means that ownership in them passes by simple contract. That is not so.)"
An article from the Register Of Scotland on souvenir plot sales.
"A real right of ownership in land (in the sense of a right that is enforceable against third parties) can only be obtained by registration in the Land Register or by recording a deed in the Register of Sasines as appropriate."
An answer to a question asked in the Scottish Parliament by Mike Russell about Scottish souvenir land plot sales.
"The position of the Scottish Executive on the purported sale of souvenir plots is reflected in the terms of the above mentioned legislation. The Executive would advise that any individuals participating in transactions of this nature should be aware that there is no true purchase involved as no title can be obtained to the plot of land."
An article on Scottish souvenir plot ownership by Halliday Campbell Scottish solicitors.
"So, the argument that says you don't need to register title to a souvenir plot is at best disingenuous. It's not that you don't need to: you just can't. So, you can't “own” the plot and someone who subsequently buys the entire estate may register their title and leave you with only a personal right against those who sold to you."
This article in The Journal, the magazine of the Law Society Of Scotland is also of interest.

If you bought a souvenir plot of land in Scotland and was led to believe you were buying the real right of ownership of that land by the seller, you've been conned, ask for your money back.

You might also want to read this post on Laird Lord and Lady titles.

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