The Land Registry has just announced a scheme which it hopes will provide quicker and cheaper Conveyancing searches. Searches with the local council are an essential part of the home-buying process, but at present Conveyancing Solicitors may have to wait several weeks to receive replies – some councils are notorious for their delays.
The Registry, which is responsible for registration of property titles, is now working with several councils on a scheme to consolidate their local land charge registers into a digitised central register. If successful, this scheme will be launched nationwide and will enable Conveyancing Solicitors to obtain local searches alongside the title register and plan using existing electronic channels, to a standardised price, format and turnaround time.
Fridaysmove has previously advocated a scheme of this nature, so it is good to see that the Land Registry is now taking action to simplify the present system. Solicitors can currently download copies of property titles and plans with a few mouse-clicks, and being able to receive local search information at the same time will cut out a major cause of delays for home-buyers.
Local searches provide a wide range of property-related information which is vital for anyone buying a property. They cover such diverse areas as highway information, planning records, tree preservation orders and conservation areas. They have for many years been an essential part of buying a home, and mortgage lenders usually require such a search before advancing funds.
But at present there are huge variations in the way in which individual councils keep their records and the speed with which they respond to search applications. There is also a wide range in the fees which each council charges. This has led to considerable differences in the speed and cost of Conveyancing across the country, depending on the location of the property being purchased.
Malcolm Dawson OBE, Chief Land Registrar and Chief Executive said:
“… the service being provided does not meet customers’ needs. Our proposals are aimed at making a real difference to Conveyancing efficiency by providing easy and transparent access to vital land and property information. “
Jonathan Smithers, Chair of the Law Society Conveyancing and Land Law Committee, commented:
” [this] could be the start of something that is good news for everyone, from home buyers to mortgage lenders and Conveyancers, as it could make the collection of information in the conveyancing process more straightforward. ”
The scheme is also intended to incorporate the Coal Authority’s records about coal mining activity. This would obviate the need to carry out two or more separate searches, as well as ensuring that the need for a coal mining search is not inadvertently overlooked.