Why and how should you keep your title deeds safe?
House or title deeds are very important legal documents that need to be stored somewhere safe. You can keep your title deeds at home if you take some precautions, such as using a suitable safe.
- What are title deeds?
- Where should I keep my title deeds?
- Title deeds at home – are there risks?
- Suitable safes for title deeds
What are title deeds?
The title deeds to your home are paper documents that record the chain of ownership of your property. In short, they prove that you own the house.
You need your title deeds to be able to sell your house, and they are also vital for resolving any disputes with your neighbours about the boundaries of your land. See the Land Registry’s explanation for more information about title deeds.
If your property is still mortgaged, it’s very likely that your bank or mortgage lender holds the deeds. If you’re not sure where your deeds are, call and ask your lender if they are keeping hold of them. The bank will hand the house deeds over to you when your mortgage is finally paid off, and that’s when you need to find somewhere very safe to store them.
Where should I keep my title deeds?
One safe option is to hand your title deeds over to a solicitor and ask them to store them for you. This is a reliable and convenient option that takes the pressure off you – but not everybody has a solicitor who routinely deals with their affairs.
You can also store your title deeds in a safe deposit box at your bank or building society. This is a very secure option, but you will usually have to pay an ongoing charge for hiring a deposit box and possibly pay a fee every time you want to view the deeds. Ask your bank whether they offer this service and find out about the fees involved.
If you don’t have a solicitor and don’t want to pay for the bank to hold onto your deeds, you might consider keeping your title deeds somewhere safe in your own home.
Title deeds at home – are there risks?
Keeping such an important paper document safe in your house has its challenges. Your deeds could be damaged by water; a burst pipe, a flood, or even a spilled drink spilled are all dangers. A house fire is likely to destroy your house deeds along with your other important documents.
If you tend to keep all your important or valuable items in one place, a burglar could easily make off with your title deeds while they are taking everything that looks worth their while. Then there is the possibility of your title deeds simply getting lost, crumpled or damaged in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
If the your title deeds are lost or destroyed and your property is not registered with the Land Registry, you have a bit of a headache ahead of you. You would need to apply to the Land Registry to complete a First Registration. This involves sending a lot of supporting evidence that you own the house, constructing and submitting a title plan that outlines the boundaries of your property, a Statutory Declaration from a neighbour, official forms and payment. A surveyor may also need to come out to your house to confirm the boundaries – it can be a complex and lengthy process.
To avoid all this, it’s worth investing in a truly secure storage place if you are going to keep your house deeds at home – like a fire-proof document safe.
Suitable safes for title deeds
There are lots of safes that are not suitable for storing important documents like your title deeds. Fire is one of the main risks to valuable paperwork. A budget home safe is unlikely to protect any paper contents in the event of a fire. Even storage equipment that is designed to be flame-resistant, like a fire box or chest, will usually only resist fire for up to 30 minutes.
Is 30 minutes long enough when you consider how long it could take firefighters to arrive, or for you to notice and put out a small fire at home? Once a fire box or a safe have become vulnerable to flames, your valuable paperwork will be the first thing to burn.
A high-quality fire-proof document safe is the best option for keeping your title deeds safe at home. You should choose a safe that can protect paper documents against fire damage for at least one hour, as well as thieves. A safe’s fire rating tells you how long (in minutes) it can be expected to protect the contents from heat and flames.
You can get extra peace of mind by choosing a fire safe with an independent test certificate – this certifies that the safe really is fire-proof for the length of time claimed by the manufacturer. Some trustworthy fire test certificates are UL72, or the European standard EN-1047-1 – these safes are tested in a furnace for two hours!
We stock a wide range of home safes with different features and levels of security, but our selection of fire-proof document safes is the best place to start when it comes to storing house deeds. These safes are all specially designed to keep paper documents protected from flames for up to two hours, depending on their fire rating.
You should also choose a safe that can be bolted down or attached to a solid wall and make sure you install it correctly. This will prevent a burglar from taking your safe away with them. Even the most securely-locked safe is not much help if it’s taken by a thief!
If you’re investing in a document safe to store your title deeds, you can use it to store other valuables, documents or cash as well. Consider what else you might want to store and the total value of the items to help you choose the right safe. Different safes are suitable for storing different amounts of valuables – see our article on safe cash ratings for more advice.
Call us for advice
It’s important to make sure the title deeds to your home are stored somewhere safe, protected from getting lost, stolen or damaged by fire. If you want to keep them in your own home, a good quality safe is essential.
If you’re still not sure about the best place to store your deeds, or want more information and advice on different types of home safes, please give our expert team a call and we’ll be happy to help you. Call Freephone 0800 567 7549 or email us with your questions.