CoPSO Frustrated By HM Land Registry Project

The Council of Property Search Organisations (CoPSO) feel frustrated by the speed and reduced uptake in the adoption of HM Land Registry’s (HMLR) digital Local Land Charges centralization project. 

CoPSO claimed the organisation is ‘entirely supportive’ of HMLR’s attempts to digitize local land charges but feel the pace of migration and lack of popularity amongst local authorities needs to improve. 

According to a digital search service evaluation into the Local Land Charges in 2019, these sentiments were echoed by the survey’s collators and contributors. 

Whilst many respondents feel a digital and instant service will be invaluable to the home buying and selling process, not enough local authorities have migrated to assess the benefits of the new system. The evaluation deemed the service as having a low impact in the present. 

Currently, the digital system is resulting in little to no marked change in working practices around searches.  

CoPSO has recommended that HMLR identify the local authorities operating at the slowest speed and target them for immediate migration to ensure a greater impact to consumers and stakeholders.  

Whilst conveyancers are using the free search service to complete pre-search due diligence and consumers expect a digital system to reduce search costs, the overwhelming barrier remains a limited local authority rollout.  

HMLR acknowledged some difficulties in the opening year of digitizing LLCs and anticipate both increased uptake and swifter migrations in 2020. 

To migrate all 316 local authorities would take approximately 23 million charges. Currently, each local authority migration is taking between eight and nine months to complete. it is predicted that it would take 18 years to migrate all local authorities based on current migration speeds 

In total, seven local authorities have made the migration in the past 14 months. During this time, 6,500 searches have been sold with 27,800 register views and personal searches since the inaugural migration. 

295,160 charges have been migrated over to the digital system with 61% requiring amendments, which highlights the extensive work taking place and explains a delay in migrating more local authorities. 

HMLR would like to manage between 50 and 60 migrations at any one time. However, HMLR are currently preparing 22 local authorities with nine in flight. 

By the end of the next year, a target of 60 local authorities in pre-migration has been set, meaning the full migration is years from completion.  

Even with all local authorities migrating their LLCs to a digital, holistic platform, CoPSO remained sceptical as to the long-term benefits to homebuyers whilst Con29 searches remain omitted from the digital search service which is slowing the process. This was also a concern found in the digital search service evaluation.  

CoPSO press release stated 

“It is worth restating that CoPSO is entirely supportive of the Local Land Charges centralisation project and its objective to digitise data and make it available in real time.  Not only is this in keeping with the Government agenda to speed up the conveyancing process, but can also facilitate the potential for using data productively much earlier in the home buying and selling process.  

It is disappointing therefore that the project is moving forward so slowly with the data from only 7 local authorities centralised so far.  It is CoPSO’s view that the pace of take-on has to be dramatically increased and, in particular, that resource is focused on optimising the short-term benefits.   

This can be done by identifying those authorities which currently operate at the slowest speed, at the highest cost, where there are barriers to accessing data, or where there are concerns over the quality of data. 

 CoPSO has also lobbied for the release of the HMLR Report to MHCLG on the future of the CON29 which surely must have a significant impact on the long term direction of the centralisation project. 

Have you experienced improved efficiency following the use of a digital LLC system? Does the current digital system need to incorporate Con29 searches to improve search times?  

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