Will centralising the search process make home buying simpler and quicker? Yes – but not just yet

Could search digitisation be an historic step in improving the home-moving process?

Hopefully yes, but it’s unlikely for many years to come .

Under the Infrastructure Act 2015, responsibility for the 326 Local Authority Land Charges registers will be transferred to HM Land Registry in a phased approach beginning very shortly.

HMLR claims that taking the decision to go live with Warwick District Council next month will be a historic step forward in the Government’s ambition to make the home-buying process simpler, faster and cheaper.

Just for clarification, HMLR are not looking to take over the supply of an entire Local Search, just Land Charges (as prescribed in the revised legislation) and are only doing so for English local authorities. Welsh authorities have continued to resist this change.

The plan is to digitise 26 of the 326 local authority areas in England between now and the end of next year, with the rest to follow in the years to come, using a phased approach depending on the readiness of the local authorities themselves. The reality is that the process could go on, and on, until 2030.

However, at Warwick District Council from July 11:

  1. There will no longer be such a thing as an Official LLC1 and CON29 Search at this authority.
  2. A land Charges Search (no longer called an LLC1) needs to be carried out with HMLR.
  3. A CON29 search still needs to be carried out with Warwick District Council.

One search supplier asked the Land Registry who would answer questions on the subject of Land Charges. It replied by saying that they would be directed to the local authority.

But the local authority will no longer hold the records and they will, possibly, have made all of their experienced Land Charges officers redundant as a result of the Government’s decision to centralise the information.

Further details of the Local Land Charges programme can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/hm-land-registry-local-land-charges-programme/local-land-charges-programme

I am a great believer in innovation and modernisation and hope that the long-term benefits of this project prove worthy of the time, effort and money being spent now.

Just to clarify, conveyancers can continue to use their existing suppliers/agents.

I would like to thank Index Property Information and Conveyancing Data Services for contributing to the above.

* Rob Hailstone is founder of the independent conveyancers’ association, The Bold Group

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One Comment

  1. P-Daddy

    Great idea…long over due, but of course now government departments all of which are having cut backs with non compatible systems are going to implement! This will go very well won’t it, especially with a phased roll out over years and years……

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