This is the fourth blog looking at the tasks Land Registry caseworkers complete and the skills and experience they use to complete them. See the first blog which sets out the environment of a caseworker and the second and third blog to see the calls, correspondence, and casework Sharon dealt with in the morning.
To start the afternoon, Sharon works through a dispositionary first lease (DFL). A typical DFL could be a landlord extending a lease for an occupant who’s staying in the same flat (surrender and re-grant). To register the new lease she needs to create a new title plan and title register.
Sharon checks the title plans and registers to establish who owns the building, who’s the landlord and who’s the tenant. She then checks for any prescribed clauses – there may be rules/regulations that deny or grant a tenant access to something like a pathway or a garden. She needs to make sure that all clauses are represented on the new title plan she will create.
Next Sharon looks at the extent (indicative boundary) of the lease that has been provided by the landlord. It’s a paper document and the extent of the lease is marked with a red pen. In the landlord’s title plan, we see that the building itself has more than 900 flats. Sharon cross-references this with the title plan on her screen and begins to create a new title plan by plotting the extent of the lease.
Sharon resolves several questions from colleagues about legal aspects of cases while she works on the lease. While caseworkers need and use both legal knowledge and mapping skills every day, she feels her expertise is ‘legal’ (creating the title register). Sharon is able to contact a team of Land Registry lawyers on the occasions she needs further advice. Some of her colleagues are experts in mapping (creating the title plan). She will often ask these colleagues for advice when she’s creating title plans.
Next is the creation of the title register. She looks at the freehold title held by the landlord (created in 1974) to see if it affects the new title which Sharon is creating for the tenant. There are more than 900 entries in the register which Sharon has to check. She knows what she is looking for and easily identifies the tenant’s property and enters the details that relate to it (such as rights to access gas/storage/paths) in the tenant’s title register. She is happy with the plan and register so she completes the application.
Sharon takes another call. A customer is having difficulties accessing files associated with a register. She uses her systems to pull up the register and logs-on to the Land Registry portal so she can better understand what the customer is referring too. The customer is new to their firm and has not yet been trained on using the portal. Sharon confirms that the customer doesn’t need the extra files for the task they are trying to complete. She lodges the details of the call in the Customer Relationship Management system along with updates to the customer’s contact details.
We now look at a pending correspondence Sharon has been dealing with for a while. A solicitor has written to us on behalf of their client asking for a title plan to be updated. They feel their client has access to the whole of a pathway behind their home, not just the section which is currently shown on their title plan. Sharon has a lot of experience with these cases. The client’s title register refers to another title register which had to be checked. She also had to order the original deeds from file storage which took a few days to arrive. Using all these documents, Sharon can see that the plans, registers, and deeds show that homeowner has access only to part of the pathway.
Sharon will finish off the day with more calls and correspondence. She’s currently doing extra casework during weekend overtime. Her dedication to her job is admirable and I’m impressed by how confident and knowledgeable she is.
It’s clear from spending a day with Sharon that casework is a challenging job that requires vast amounts of knowledge. For a new caseworker, working through the 54 points of changing a name in a register can take quite a while, but as they become more experienced they will be able to interpret the legal documents that have been lodged alongside an application and use their knowledge and experience to determine the procedure and complete the application much more efficiently.
After my time with Sharon, I have a much better idea of the variety and complexity of tasks a Land Registry caseworker completes, the skills and experience they use, and the pride they have in their work. I hope I’ve been able to capture some of this in these blogs and that you have a better idea now too.