1. Introduction

Land registers in different countries do not all record the same information. Some are more informative than others, but even the most comprehensive registers may not record every legal fact that someone buying the property may want to know. These pages explain some of the things that you will not discover from from the land register.

Hidden charges are the words often used to describe some of these matters, although national laws may use other descriptions. In these pages, we mean by hidden charges:
public or private rights which burden the property, but:

  • which cannot be mentioned in the land register, or
  • which it is not necessary to record in the land register,

and which will continue to burden the property even after it has been sold or mortgaged to someone, acting in good faith, who did not know about them.

There are many reasons why the land register may not record these burdens. Some of these reasons are:

  • they may be recorded in other public registers (see below)
  • it may be impractical for the land register to record them, because of the way it is compiled
  • it may not be practical to expect people to apply to register them
  • it may be thought that the public interest demands that they should not be lost if they are not registered (this is particularly true of some public rights)
  • they may be imposed by national law on all properties in a particular area, or all properties of a particular kind.

Most states impose restrictions on development and require some kind of government or municipal consent for erecting or altering buildings or changing the use of land. National law may also impose restrictions on the use or acquisition of land in certain areas or in certain cases. Many land registers do not record information about these matters.

These pages give a short summary of national law on these subjects. They explain what other sources of information are available about hidden charges, legal restrictions and permission for development of land. They explain what registers and other sources of information people usually search, in addition to inspecting the land register, when they buy real estate, or lend money on mortgage, in the country concerned.

These pages give general guidance only, and do not cover every detail of national law. You should not rely on them as giving comprehensive legal advice in connection with a particular transaction.

This fact sheet is divided into 4 chapters:

Edited 2012
Updated 2017

This Fact Sheet contains only basic information and any interested person should consult a legal specialist for further information.


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