Will Land Registry increasing its powers help home moving?

As we reported last week the Land Registry has issued a consultation paper to extend its remit to cover LLC1 data initially but ultimately also CON29 data.

It states that it wishes to “unlock efficiency in the public sector and the land and property market”, “maximise the reuse of data for the benefit of the wider economy” and “Increase and extend the assurance and compliance provided to the market.”

It is therefore seeking to extend its current legal powers to enable it to provide “information and register services relating to the land and other property market” and “to provide consultancy and advisory services relating to land and property generally”.

Within this very broad scope of the extension of its role it wishes to take over the statutory function of holding and maintaining a composite Land Charges register for England and Wales.

The consultation paper believes that it could save 20% of the cost of local land charge costs.

The consultation closes on the 9th March.

There are two parts to the consultation firstly the question of widening Land Registry’s remit beyond land registration but to land and property more broadly and secondly to amend the LLCA 1975 to provide a more consistent and standardised LLC search system.

We have no comment to make about Land Registry trying to widen its role but do question whether LLC data is the correct starting point.

I would expect many conveyancers would agree that the lack of centralised information about leasehold management companies is a much more challenging problem for home movers and conveyancing than lack of consistency and standardisation in respect of LLC data. There seem to be more pressing problems with greater returns on investment.

Secondly I do wonder whether the replacement of 348 local authorities that can be named and shamed for their service turnaround times or praised for their success by a single monopoly supplier is likely to create a competitive culture for improvement. It seems a backward step to be creating monopolies in a free economy.

That said if you could obtain a full local authority search as quickly and cheaply as you can obtain an office copy entry the conveyancing process could substantially improve and significant wasted costs in the home moving process could be avoided however the paper does not estimate the cost of the project or set out an appropriately detailed set of financial reasons for the change.

At the moment conveyancers can obtain LLC data within a reasonable time period, can rely on the data, it comes in a broadly similar form from all local authorities. The system is not really broken and at a time when tax payers continue to struggle with the cost of living does it make sense to create a new project funded by tax payers where the benefits have hardly been tested or explained?

We hope that Land Registry will reconsider their plans and focus on other projects that could really help the home moving process and add value to the economy through speeding up the transfer of title.

Ronnie Park, Managing Director of OneSearch Direct welcomed the consultation stating: “The Land Registry’s announcement of their proposed intervention into the Local Land Charges market must be given serious consideration.

"Past attempts by government bodies to improve the home buying process, such as NLIS, HIPS and chain matrix, failed due to a combination of factors–but the common theme was a lack of proper engagement with the existing industry.

"As property data experts, OneSearch Direct, has invested around £10 million in the integrity of our data set over the period of 20 years, and we employ more than 30 permanent data staff to ensure information is updated on a daily basis.  

"We are now leading the way in real-time property data and know how important it is to get the data collection processes right.   Our research has identified significant flaws in the current data aggregation and distribution processes at the majority of local authorities, which can result in real risk to consumers acquiring property.

"Get both of these aspects right and there could be enormous citizen benefit by improving data quality and delivery in this essential part of the conveyancing process."

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