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Speeding up the conveyancing process – new central register for local land searches

A new centralised online register for Local Land Charges (LLC) - which the Government says will make the house-buying process simpler, faster and cheaper - is set to launch with the first phase of Local Authorities in June of this year.

In preparation, HM Land Registry (HMLR) is working currently with 26 local authorities in England, to move LLC records to the new register in a bid to eliminate regional variations in the speed, format and cost of this type of search.

The Government predicts that the move will benefit up to 125,000 homebuyers in 2018 to 2019 and after this first phase, will look at how best to move the LLC records of the remaining 300 local authorities across the country to the new portal.

Getting rid of disparities

Currently, every local authority in the land maintains its own register of charges affecting the land and property in its area which means a huge difference in what searches cost, ranging from just £3 up to about £76, and a vast disparity in turnaround times, from one day to 20 days.

The programme, the largest ever undertaken by the HMLR, will eventually replace the current system with a single digital service.

Its aim is to standardise information, make access easier and ensure a simpler, speedier conveyancing process with average fees significantly lower than they are currently.

Expectations for ease of access

HMLR's Chief Executive and Chief Land Registrar Graham Farrant said: "In today's world, people expect to be able to access government information online quickly and easily, and for a reasonable fee. A national Local Land Charges service will achieve that.

"HM Land Registry has a track record for modernising land-related systems and is very pleased to be taking on the delivery of the national Local Land Charges digital register. This is a significant step forward in the Government's ambition to make the house-buying process simpler, faster and cheaper."

Wards Solicitors involved in consultation process

Researchers from HMLR visited Wards Solicitors' conveyancing team last summer, as well as other law firms and a large number of local authorities, to gain an insight into how lawyers currently order and obtain Local Land Charges (LLC) information in the course of their work.

This information was used to help shape the new LLC register into an easy-to-use system that is useful to conveyancers, solicitors, local authorities and search companies alike.

Wards Solicitors has a highly experienced Conveyancing team across all 11 offices.