Property lawyers unanimously reject plans for changes to land registry

Property lawyers and conveyancers have no appetite for privatising the Land Registry or making changes to the 150 year old body as proposed by the Government, according to a survey by the Council of Property Search Organisations (CoPSO). The results showed a unanimous rejection of the proposals with 97% of the conveyancers polled saying privatising the registry was a bad thing.

Proposals to centralise Local Land Charges were also met with opposition with only 23% of respondents seeing this as a positive move. Further, when asked for their reaction to the proposal that under the new structure the Land Registry will only capture data that is less than 15 years old, nearly 97% of the respondents said this was unacceptable.

However, when asked if the Land Registry should become a depository for all Leasehold information more than 80% of the conveyancers agreed with this move.

James Sherwood-Rogers, chairman of CoPSO whose members carry out around 2 million searches a year, said:

“In our view the Land Registry is deliberately misleading ministers and the public about the demand for the reforms.

“Their own research – and now ours – underlines that the key aspect of reform is leasehold title, but they refuse to acknowledge this, and instead are pretending there is a problem elsewhere when their patently is not.

“There is no support whatsoever for the reforms to the search and data activity, no evidence that this is a problem in the housing market and the changes proposed will cause widespread disruption and additional cost for consumers. Ministers need to explain why they are so intent on fixing a problem that does not exist rather than sorting out the problems that exist in respect of leasehold properties.”

CoPSO has written to Michael Fallon, the minister of State for Business and Energy, calling on him to scrap the consultation on centralisation of the Local Land Charges Register amid serious concerns that the changes will put listed homes at risk and destabilise the housing market.

Survey results

Q1) Are you aware that the Government is consulting on restructuring the Land Registry which could lead to it privatisation?

Yes – 79.55%

No – 20.45%

Q2) Do you believe privatising the Land Registry would be a good or bad thing?

Good Thing – 2.62%

Bad Thing – 97.38%

Q3) If it goes ahead the Land Registry is proposing that it will only capture data that is less than 15 years old. This would miss out over 90% if listed properties, those in conservation areas, tree preservation orders etc. Is this acceptable to you?

Yes – 3.40%

No – 96.60%

Q4) Are you in favour of the Land Registry centralising the Local Land Charges Register?

Yes – 23.46%

No – 76.54%

Q5) If there was a choice between the Land Registry centralising the Local Land Charges Register or becoming a depository for all Leasehold Title, which would you prefer they did?

Centralise LLCR – 18.78%

Become a depository for leasehold information – 81.22%