A welcomed update from HM Land Registry
The Land Registry’s Chief Executive, Simon Hayes, has given a welcome update on LR’s plan to tackle its current caseload. The UK SDLT holiday, which resulted in an average of 103,724* residential house purchases each month throughout the tax break period, coupled with remote working for its workers during the pandemic has created unprecedented caseloads for the LR to process.
The result has been painful delays for houseowners, investors, and lenders, which has had a clear ripple effect on commercial transactions, creating delay to much needed funding for development projects; and causing marked frustration from property owners who are subject to waiting for completion of registration for months. For apartment blocks and busy titles, processing times of well over 6 months have not been uncommon, leaving conveyancers to manage their client’s expectations and clients becoming increasingly tired of being told “it is being dealt with”.
The update from Land Registry at the start of this month is a welcome one. The update states that HM Land Registry received around 1.5 million more applications in 2021 than in 2019, acknowledging the increased pressures.
There are three main areas in which update has been given which is hoped will help with the current backlogs and reduce delays.
1. Expedited Status
The LR has opened up its discretion on expediting applications. It is possible to request certain applications be expedited, in which case over 95% of those expedited applications are dealt with in 10 working days.
In order to expedite an application, you will need to provide evidence which clearly shows why you are asking LR to expedite.
Examples of situations were an expedited application will be accepted includes, where delay to the application can cause problems of hardships, for example if the delay in registration is likely to jeopardise a mortgage offer, or hold up a commercial development project.
The update confirms that the LR is halfway through a recruitment drive of 800 new caseworkers, which should go a long way in dealing with current back logs and incoming applications.
The update also lays out plans for automation of the simpler applications LR receives through their new Digital Registration Service which is expected to be completed and available for use later this year.
A Welcomed Update
It is clear that events over the past few years, particularly relating to COVID has placed real strain on LR, which is unsuprising. It is now very important that the backlog is dealt with efficiently to ensure minimal interruption to the property and legal industries going forward as society looks to return to normalcy, and the update received from the LR is much welcomed.
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