September 4th, 2018

Letter from Jon Round, Divisional Managing Director, York Place

I am writing to update you on HM Land Registry and the digitisation of Local Land Charges.

The launch of the new Land Registry central digital register in July at its first local authority – Warwick – was heralded as a major breakthrough in conveyancing searches. Here at York Place, we welcome this development but understand that it is still in its early stages and not yet the complete digital solution to speed up searches.

Many of you have been asking how the digitisation will affect the ordering and delivery of Land Registry searches now and in the future. As we have now been ordering LLC searches online from Warwick for over a month, we are now in a position to share our feedback with you.

The first and most obvious point to make us that the local land charges certificate is only one part of the standard search. The Con29 questions are not yet centralised and are still answered by the council. This means that the speed of reply from the Land Registry charges is not currently that significant.

Another major issue we have had is that the because register is a digital one, it relies very much on the drawing of the boundaries. Our findings so far are that if you draw the boundary on the exact boundary lines, you are likely to pick up a charge for a neighbouring property. This is particularly onerous within urban areas as it can falsely pick up charges which need checking thoroughly as to which property they relate too. Advice from the Land Registry to avoid this is to draw inside the boundary lines! As it is an instant service, there is no longer any interpretation by local land charges officers.

We have carried out several LLC1 searches using the title number and the certificates we have received back have also included irrelevant charges. Admittedly, each charge is labelled with the address of the property concerned but with some charges, eg smoke control and conservation areas, it is not possible to know without possible research if the property is affected. Our concerns have been referred to the Land Registry and we have been told that conveyancers may have to pick out those charges that are relevant and ignore the others.

There was also an IT glitch in the Land Registry system which affected searches carried out from 11 July to 6 August. We are told that during preparations for the launch of the service for Liverpool, some data was accidentally cleansed. Apparently, only 0.5% of land charges were affected but to our knowledge at least two of those were a smoke control order and a conservation area charge so many properties in Leamington Spa were potentially affected. We have re-issued all relevant searches and would like to reassure clients that, in the event of an adverse entry affecting the property value which we do not reveal, our search indemnity policy does cover the purchaser and lender.

We look forward to seeing how the system develops over the coming year.


Jon Round


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