Over the last two months we have continued to discuss and provide regular updates about our Local Land Charges (LLC) proposals.

This follows our announcement in June of legislation for Land Registry to become the sole registering authority for LLC in England and Wales.

Members of our LLC Team went to Bournemouth in July to exhibit at the Local Government Association’s annual conference. Billed as “the biggest event in the local government calendar” and regularly attracting more than 1,200 delegates, this was an invaluable opportunity to speak directly to local authorities.

Local Authority Stakeholder Manager Rhonda Griffiths said a lot of interest was shown in our proposals. “Delegates were pleased to see that Land Registry is engaging at this very early stage so that appropriate planning can take place,” she said.

As part of our wider work with local authorities we also hosted a third Discovery Day in Leeds to identify better ways of working between central and local government. Run in partnership with the Department for Communities and Local Government, the day aimed at discussing practical digital solutions alongside feedback about LLC.

This month (August) we met potential suppliers of the necessary technology at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to discuss and identify requirements before entering any formal procurement.

Their expertise will be vital as we aim to provide a central, digital service for LLC to ultimately improve access, standardise fees and decrease turnaround times for property professionals and the public.

We will continue to provide updates through Landnet and on our blog but please contact the team if you have any questions or want more information: llcproject@landregistry.gov.uk

Gavin Curry talks to solicitor Stephen Proctor about Local Land Charges and conveyancing

Stephen Proctor believes that buying a property could one day be as straightforward as buying a car – with its history as readily available as any vehicle’s.

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That’s why the experienced solicitor is a supporter of Land Registry’s proposals to create a single digital register for Local Land Charges and offer a standardised search service.

“It’s about ensuring we have up to date, accurate and readily available information,” said Stephen, who is taking up a new role as a Property Partner at Harrowells Solicitors in North Yorkshire on 1 September.

“You are ensuring that all the Local Land Charges information is centrally collated and available for immediate download so the conveyancer can identify any issues at the earliest possible opportunity.

“That is a big benefit and goes a long way to reducing the risk of things being brought up late on in a transaction and which can cause delay, or worse.”

Stephen, who has led the conveyancing department at Jordans in West Yorkshire for the past nine years, believes this is one of the keys to a faster conveyancing process.

“The local search should be one of the first things you do,” he said. “If there’s something that needs resolution you had better have enough time to sort it out. If there’s something missing, let’s deal with it now.”

Quick turnaround

The new register will help meet clients’ increasing expectations of a quick turnaround in a digital age.

“Our profession has progressed from the quill to the biro to the laptop and beyond,” said Stephen. “The expectation used to be that letters would be responded to within a few days. Now it’s unacceptable to fail to reply to an email almost by return.

“Clients expect quick responses and are all too prepared to challenge professionals in ways that would have been unthinkable a couple of decades ago.

“While they are, of course, entitled to expect a good service, what is commonly understood as a ‘service’ is not the same as what the conveyancer always understands.

“To a client, ‘service’ means buying or selling a property quickly, being able to speak to the solicitor when they need to and not being passed from pillar to post to get the simplest of answers to their queries.

“However, a solicitor would traditionally think that a good service is about making sure that the title to the property is OK. Many clients take this for granted and don’t share this view – or even know about it!

“In many respects, this is why the comparison with buying a car isn’t that far fetched. Many clients approach buying houses and cars with the same mind set. In both cases they see what they like, want to buy it and don’t want to know all the technical detail – they just want to know when they can have it.

“Could you imagine what it would be like if you wanted to buy a new car but had to wait several weeks while an emissions certificate was tracked down?

“Similarly, with a house, everything you could ever want to know about a house should be kept in one place. The provision of Local Land Charges information by Land Registry is but one step in that direction, albeit an important one, and possibly could signal a wider intent to reach that goal one day.”

Working collaboratively

However all stakeholders need to see – and experience – the benefits.

“Land Registry can work together with local authorities and the search agencies in a positive and collaborative way,” said Stephen.

“Local authorities might see the new register as a challenge and personal search companies may see it as competition. My view is they should see it as an opportunity to work hand in glove with Land Registry.

“We won’t be losing the local authorities’ local knowledge and records because they will still need them for their own purposes. The personal search companies will still provide a wide range of information, an additional part of which, but still not all, will be available from Land Registry.”

Ultimately, whatever the opinions of the information providers, Stephen believes Land Registry’s plans will help achieve what should be everyone’s aim in conveyancing: serving the client as well as possible.

“We want people to be able to move home with reliable accurate information within the swiftest possible time.”


Gavin Curry
By Gavin Curry,
Editor at HM Land Registry