06 October, 2016
It has recently been revealed that plans to privatise the Land Registry have been put on hold while ministers review responses to the government's consultation. The privatisation, which was due to be a major part of the Neighbourhood Planning Bill, has been omitted; although this seems to be welcomed by most as the initial plans to privatise raised concerns that the plans were more focused on raising money than providing a better quality of service.
After initial plans to privatise were revealed, there was a petition signed by 317,930 people against the move. The Law Society's president Robert Bourns has welcomed the decision to delay any sale saying "privatising the Land Registry would create a range of serious risks to this vital piece of national infrastructure, which supports and ensures the integrity of property ownership in this country".
This news comes as a mixed blessing to our Housing & Regeneration (property) team which deals with countless acquisitions of land and plot sales for housing associations each month. Each purchase or lease over 7 years has to be registered at the Land Registry and, since the property market has picked up after the recession, backlogs of registrations have been building at the Land Registry. Our specialist team finds that straightforward applications are dealt with in a matter of days whereas more complex registrations can take months and in some cases in excess of 9 months.
This has potentially posed problems for shared ownership and outright plot sales where the RP's title on its acquisition of the properties or site needs to be registered before the sales can complete.
To try and prevent the delay at the Land Registry delaying sales where the RP has acquired a significant number of houses from national housebuilders, we have utilised the housebuilders dedicated team at the Land Registry to aid with the registrations going through. This has been successful and has resulted in plot purchases being registered within a few days meaning that the RP could immediately on purchase of the houses, sell them on to buyers with no delay.
The question still remains however of whether the plans to privatise the Land Registry will be taken off hold or whether they will be scrapped completely. If the results of the consultation and the complete omission from the Neighbourhood Planning Bill are to go by then it should be the latter, which is probably good news for the immediate future but does not solve the longer term issues and problems being currently caused by the delays.
For more information, please contact a member of the Housing & Regeneration (Property) team on 01772 220022.