Land Registry to widen its powers and take on Local Land Charge searches
Land Registry is making it easier to register a property in England and Wales. It is to become the sole registering authority for Local Land Charges (LLC) in England and Wales, leading to a standardised national fee for the first time and an end to the existing ‘postcode lottery’.
The changes will also lead to an improved, standardised and digital service and will result in better access to property information and a more streamlined conveyancing process.
Work will begin on a phased migration of the LLC service to Land Registry from April 2015.
The announcement was made as Land Registry unveiled the results of its consultation into extending its powers and assuming statutory responsibility for a digitised LLC register for England and Wales.
Ed Lester, Chief Land Registrar and Chief Executive, said:
“The proposals will provide a “one stop shop” digital LLC search service, which will improve and standardise the service through faster turnaround times. This is consistent with Government’s digital by default agenda and will ease the process of buying property.”
“We have listened to the consultation feedback on LLC and have made a number of changes to the original proposals. For example, the period covered by a LLC official search will not now be limited to 15 years.”
The proposals support wider government priorities to improve the ease of registering a property in the UK, digitise government services and make public data more easily accessible for the benefit of the wider economy.
At present, local land charges are maintained and delivered by each of the 348 local authorities. Fees vary between £3 and £96, with a turnaround time of between 1 and 42 days. More than 1 million local land charge searches are undertaken annually by conveyancers as part of residential and commercial property transactions and remortgages.
The necessary changes to the Land Registration Act 2002 and Local Land Charges Act 1975 were referenced in the Queen’s speech and will form part of the proposed Infrastructure Bill which is expected to complete its passage through Parliament by March 2015.
These measures are separate to the consultation on the future commercial model of Land Registry. No decision has been made yet and the Government will publish its response to the public consultation shortly.