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Property ownership in Scotland

This information only applies in Scotland.

Buying a property is a huge investment. This guide gives you an outline of what you need to know about owning a property in Scotland.

Last reviewed 10 November 2022.

Property registration is managed by the Registers of Scotland, a non-ministerial department of the Scottish Government.

If you buy land or property, you must go through a formal registration process so that you’re legally recognised as the owner. You do this by registering the title deeds in the Land Register of Scotland. For further information, read Land registration in Scotland

You are likely to see this term used regarding buying a house or a piece of land. Many people think heritable property only means property that can be inherited. In fact, heritable property is used to describe all land and buildings, as well as the rights connected to the property.

As a property owner, you may have to comply with rules about how you can use the property (known as 'real burdens'). Real burdens exist to make sure you don’t cause problems for neighbouring properties. These will often be written into the title deeds and set out certain things you can and can’t do. Common examples are burdens that prevent you from using a house to run a business or making changes to the building. If you’re buying a flat, you might have to agree to help maintain and repair communal areas such as the stairs or hallways.

For more information, read Restrictive covenants for property.

Servitudes give other people rights over your property. Servitude only allows third parties to use part of your property in a specific way, for example, a right of access over your property or an entitlement to run pipes or electricity cables over part of your land. For more information, read Servitudes and public rights of way in Scotland.

The title documents must be kept in a safe place as they contain important information. They will be needed if you have to check any details about the property, if you decide to sell or if you die so that your estate can be wound up.

If you have a mortgage, your lender will keep the title deeds as security. If you don’t, they will be sent to your solicitor. You can then ask for them to be passed on to you or they can be left with your solicitor for safekeeping.