Page after page filled will names and figures – although its name is often mentioned, many have only a vague idea what the land register actually is, and what sort of information it provides. Taken as a whole, it represents a central register listing all plots of land within a given district or municipality. Each land register folio contained therein provides basic property details, such as location, ownership, rights and encumbrances. Rather than being in the public domain, it is accessible only to persons of “legitimate interest.” Below, you will find a round-up of everything else you need to know about it.
The actual land register opens with the designation of the competent district court, the land register district, the land register volume and file number. Next comes the land records inventory, which specifies the location, cadastral section number and local sub-district in an official map, so that prospective buyers can verify the exact location of a given plot’s boundaries upon request.
At the heart of the land register are its so-called sections. The first of these sections, Section I, specifies ownership and ground lease details. Whenever several persons are recognised as the rightful owners, the land register will also specify their pro-rata ownership share. Additional information includes the reasons for the registration, e. g. the conveyance, which details the transfer of ownership. Section II specifies persons and entities who have rights and obligations related to the plot. These can take the form of easements and third-party rights not tantamount to full ownership, e. g. rights of way or rights of usufruct. Prospective buyers may obtain a land register extract for the purpose of reviewing these rights. The same section also identifies insolvency notices and land charges, if any. Listed in Section III are possibly existing mortgage liens. The section may state, for example, that a bank will take possession of the plot in the event that the owner defaults on the mortgage loan. One option for such a realisation of a plot would be a foreclosure sale.
The land registers of cadastral districts everywhere in Germany except in the state of Baden-Württemberg are administrated by the district courts, and were digitised in 2009. This means, you will no longer need to visit the authorities in person to obtain a land register extract but may request one online instead. The charge for non-authenticated extracts tends to approximate ten euros. For privacy reasons, however, access to the land register is restricted exclusively to plot owners, persons registered in the land register with priority notices or other persons with “legitimate interests.” The latter group includes prospective buyers, creditors, banks and notaries. Here is why: Before approving a mortgage loan, the underwriting bank will want to review the land charges a given plot may be encumbered with.
Entry in the land register presupposes that a notarised sale-and-purchase agreement is submitted. This is true even for endowments or inheritances. The charge for the registration depends on the purchase price. Also important in this context is the priority notice of conveyance. It ensures that the owner of a given plot does not simultaneously sell it to other prospects. At the same time, the priority notice presents an opportunity to establish the price via the entry in the land register, which is synonymous with the transfer of title.