https://hmlandregistry.blog.gov.uk/2017/12/28/opening-our-conveyancer-data/

Opening our conveyancer data

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To become the world’s leading land registry for an open approach to data is one of HM Land Registry’s ambitions, as we laid out in our recent Business Strategy.

We are working towards publishing a wide variety of data in high quality and accessible formats to enable it to be used by anyone with an interest in land registration information. We hope this will support the growing digital economy and add to the nation’s land and property geospatial intelligence.

A recent Law Society Gazette article termed this particular approach to data as opening the way for ‘Compare the conveyancer’. In our Business Strategy, we set out how we are looking at publishing our conveyancer data to provide citizens with the real picture on how well their conveyancer is performing, and to enable those same conveyancers to track their relative performance. In this post, I want to set out how and why we are looking at opening up the data.

Who we are working with: high volume customers

We have started sending a monthly workbook to the 500 customers who send us the highest volume of applications. These are the customers who we plan to list in our conveyancing data and so it was important for us to keep them up to date about their applications and how we could work together to improve these applications to make sure they are processed simply and without delay. The workbook may also help them identify what we can do better for them.

Why we will be doing this: providing greater transparency

We hold a rich variety of publishable data that would be of benefit to other government departments, our customers and citizens alike. We have committed to making all our publishable data accessible and to work closely with our main partners and the industry in doing so. This is part of our aim to make conveyancing simpler, faster and cheaper for everyone.

We are working on different areas to achieve this aim. Right now, however, holding us back is the amount of requisitions we send; more than 5,000 each day! A requisition is a request for further information or action that we have had to send conveyancers before their applications can be completed. The work we do with conveyancers to improve the registration process is a high priority for us and we need to be more consistent with how and when we tell our customers about the requisitions we send. I talked about this in an article I wrote recently for the Law Society.

Our plans for greater transparency are part of our wider commitment to the rest of government (as set out in the Housing White Paper: Fixing our broken housing market) to support development and financial stability and to improve the competitive markets for citizens in their everyday life. This is part of how we are supporting the Government’s Industrial Strategy but also part of how we can work with the Competitions and Market Authority (the CMA) to provide greater transparency in this market. The CMA has concluded that there is not enough information available on price, quality, and service to help those who need legal support to choose the best option. We have been involved in discussions with the regulators and membership bodies in the legal sector about what part the data we hold can play.

How we will do this: working with the sector

In order to provide citizens with the comparative information about conveyancers that we have committed to, we are looking at publishing our data showing how many registration applications conveyancers have sent us, and how many requisitions we have had to send back in reply, in order to process these applications.

We are currently working with the legal and conveyancing sectors to understand their views about our proposal to publish this data in 2018.

We are currently planning to publish:

  • a downloadable comma separated value (CSV) file which could name the 500 customers who sent us the highest volume of applications (year to date) and show the percentage of the applications they sent us which needed further work before we could process them; and
  • a chart that tracks the data mentioned above for the top 50 customers by volume of applications sent.

What we can do: being more consistent

There are things we need to improve which are as important as conveyancers improving what they do. We know we need to be more consistent with when and how we raise requisitions with our customers. To help address this, we are training our caseworkers to increase their use of standard forms of requisition.

There will always be occasions where our caseworkers need to send ‘free-format’ requisitions that cannot be easily categorised and we currently do that in about 25% of cases. This is too high, given that many of the requisitions we raise are on the same overall issues. Fewer free-format applications will give us better data that will help us become more consistent about when we raise requisitions, and customers will receive clearer information about the action they need to take.

While conveyancers are still responsible for completing applications with due care and attention, we can help them improve by giving them better data and advice, and a more consistent service. So this is not just about conveyancers improving the quality of their applications; we need to improve too, and by working together to do better across the board we can help make conveyancing simpler, faster and cheaper for all of us.

49 comments

  1. Comment by S mitchell posted on

    Used your online search, excellent very user friendly.

    Reply
  2. Comment by John Harvey posted on

    Would LR not be obliged to provide information under Freedom of Information as to a business users' record for avoiding requisitions (and other customer important information such as the proportion of applications submitted during the protection period given by a search) regardless of whether it was in the top 500?

    In fact would it not be possible for someone wanting to instruct a local conveyancer to ask for comparative information within a group of postcodes?

    You make no mention of working with the comparison site industry are you ding so? This may be your best chance for using data to get conveyancers to up their game

    Reply
    • Replies to John Harvey>

      Comment by Andrew Robertson posted on

      Thanks for your comments, John.

      Yes all of the data that we hold can in principle be disclosed under an FOI request, although if the data is already published or available under section 66 of the Land Registration Act then that's how the data will be provided. For example, some data about conveyancers is already published in our datasets, such as how many and what type of applications they lodge with HM Land Registry.

      Providing comparative data on the basis of postcodes would not be straightforward as the relevant data we hold on requisitions is not set up in that way. But I see the point you're making and I will feed that back to colleagues who are developing our data propositions.

      We are not liaising with comparison sites. But as mentioned in the blog, we are liaising with the regulators and membership bodies on the overall transparency agenda recommended by the Competition and Market Authority.

      Reply
      • Replies to Andrew Robertson>

        Comment by graham posted on

        If the data is released under FOI can it then be re-used commercially?

        Reply
        • Replies to graham>

          Comment by Andrew Robertson posted on

          If data released under FOI is going to be re-used or published in some way, then we ask to be told about that beforehand, but it can be yes. As set out in our Business Strategy we are working to publish a wide variety of data to promote innovation and transparency, so if you have a proposal in mind we'd be interested to hear about it.

          Reply
  3. Comment by Wyn posted on

    How many of your staff on leasehold properties are aware that on completion of a transaction the consent will not be obtained until often weeks after completion in respect of a restriction? Requisition raised on all leasehold applications caught by a restriction. Previous system where firm were allocated a team for registrations disbanded and applications being filtered to various offices with varying levels of consistency. What is the current backlog with transfers of part and first registrations currently held? Just hope you will work with your main customers the conveyancers and to do so your staff need to have an understanding of the process. Making the land registry more akin to a call center does not help either the conveyancer or the land registry. It’s a 2 way process

    Reply
    • Replies to Wyn>

      Comment by Andrew Robertson posted on

      Hi, Wyn. Yes it absolutely is a 2-way process as the blog acknowledges. There are things HM Land Registry need to do better, and consistency is certainly one of those. And we will be working closely with conveyancers, membership bodies and regulators on this.

      Regarding the point you make about the issues that arise in leasehold transactions, we are aware of the issue and are actively considering policy options together with stakeholders that we hope may ease these problems somewhat.

      We do need to tackle the backlog and are doing so. But it doesn't help us that we aren't able to process in the region of 40% of the applications we have pending because we're waiting for something else to be provided or done before they can proceed.

      Reply
  4. Comment by Wyn posted on

    Thanks for responding of the 40% of things outstanding what are the most common things being asked for?

    Reply
    • Replies to Wyn>

      Comment by Andrew Robertson posted on

      The top 5 reasons for requisition are as follows:
      1. Restrictions (20%) - consents or certificates needed to satisfy the terms of restrictions on the register
      2. Discharges (13%) - discharge of charge evidence needed
      3. Variations and discrepancies in names (11%)
      4. Signing and witnessing of deeds (6%)
      5. Identity verification issues (3%)

      Reply
      • Replies to Andrew Robertson>

        Comment by Wyn posted on

        Thanks for response the 2 top requisitions are therefore outside the lodging Solicitors control. What is the requisition rate if a member of the public lodge an application without the assistance of a solicitor? Can you also confirm as I am led to believe that certain firms have arrangements with the land registry as an example that they will not be requisitioned for set periods of time following an application being submitted? Has this been clarified with your various teams as this makes the process unfair with different firms being treated differently? Finally today on an application I have received preliminary requisitions on an application. Once fully considered will I have double requisitions on my league table?

        Reply
        • Replies to Wyn>

          Comment by sguthrie posted on

          Hello Wyn,
          We do not gather data on applications submitted by specific citizens. This is largely due to the fact that a citizen will often only make a single application. From a quality perspective we focus more on the feedback received from customers to help us to improve our online guidance/support as we see that as a better way of improving the quality of citizen applications. We do the same for professional customers but as they submit multiple applications this allows us to also analyse the wider data referred to in the blog article.
          We do currently have a policy of not raising a requisition for an outstanding discharge for a two-week period where that is the only point preventing registration. There are no other arrangements and the policy affects all customers. We do not have special arrangements of the type you refer to.
          As regards to counting requisitions, if you received a preliminary requisition and then a later one this would count as two separate requisitions. Preliminary requisitions are invariably only raised on new title applications, namely first registrations, transfers of part and new leases.
          I hope that this clarifies the points you raised. Thanks for your comments.

          Reply
          • Replies to sguthrie>

            Comment by Wyn posted on

            Sorry

            ''There are no other arrangements and the policy affects all customers. We do not have special arrangements of the type you refer to''.

            Have you specifically checked this point with your own teams and officers who deal with the applications?

          • Replies to Wyn>

            Comment by sguthrie posted on

            Good morning Wyn,
            We should not have such special arrangements but if you are aware of any then please contact me with the details using Susan.Guthrie@landregistry.gov.uk and I can investigate.
            Thank you.

  5. Comment by Tony posted on

    We are encouraged by the new Lender to submit our application for registration as soon as possible. It makes sense to my firm to submit SDLT on the day of completion and AP1 or FR1 registration as soon as the Transfer is received from the Sellers Solicitor. Unfortunately many sellers lenders then hold up the registration and therefore the new lender by taking up to four weeks to submit a simple discharge. I am one of those firms that receives many requisitions asking for a discharge of the sellers mortgage. My figure would certainly be more than the 13% shown above. Therefore by doing my new lender a favour and submitting quickly at completion, I would then appear in your bad boy list by your data not recognizing or filtering out the lenders that regularly delay the sellers mortgage discharge. Should I sit on the application for four weeks until the discharge is evidenced? I don't think so.

    Please don't start me off on leasehold restrictions on the sale of flats, we have numerous run ins with landlords agents in their demand for excessive fees to provide a letter of consent. They are making the conveyancing system more expensive, some asking for £250 for a simple letter. This whole area needs reform.

    Reply
    • Replies to Tony>

      Comment by Andrew Robertson posted on

      Thanks for the comments Tony.

      Requisitions arising from discharges being needed are classified as unavoidable for conveyancers in our data. We classify them in this way because we are well aware of the issues conveyancers face in getting some lenders to produce what's needed. We will explain this in the caveats and explanations that we put out with the published data.

      I agree with you that there are policy issues arising in this space, such as leasehold restrictions. The issue of delayed discharges is another. We are looking at these and liaising with the relevant stakeholders and other bodies as part of the overall approach to improving application quality, of which publishing requisitions data is just one part.

      Reply
  6. Comment by W M Smith posted on

    We are drowning in a sea of (largely useless ) data . Do we really need any more ?

    If it has time on its hands, what the Registry really needs to do is to find a better way of compensating those who become the victim of property fraud , which does not involve penalising (generally ) blameless solicitors, who are currently likely to be picked on as a last resort simply because they have an insurance policy.

    Reply
    • Replies to W M Smith>

      Comment by Andrew Robertson posted on

      If we and conveyancers use this data in the ways set out in the blog, working collaboratively to improve the situation for all concerned, then it won't be useless. We in HM Land Registry stand ready to play our part, including improving our own processes and consistency.

      The question of how best to compensate for fraud is a separate matter I would suggest.

      Reply
  7. Comment by Anonymous posted on

    Will you also publish data in respect of delay and mistakes at the Registry?

    Reply
  8. Comment by Anonymous posted on

    As you are aware a number of the requisitions issued are incorrectly raised, have you a process in place to remove details of those requisitions from the data being published?

    Reply
    • Replies to Anonymous>

      Comment by Andrew Robertson posted on

      Yes we are aware, and as mentioned in the blog an integral part of this piece of work is improving our own consistency and quality. We are working on this alongside the publication of the data.

      Reply
  9. Comment by DM, Bristol, UK. posted on

    Dear Andrew
    Thank you for your work and we trust further sound deeply proper thoughtful responses to those who submit here from 'the industry' of concern...and who seek to CONSTRUCTIVELY seek the best, & have responded & will do with good points, (... unlike such as?? WM Smith ?.....and those who onwards, holier than thou/them, slag off or slur others, as is the mass way we have seen of late in the UK regards all sorts folk leaders etc, in all walks of life, in the public-eye realm of hyper scrutiny, seeking to do their honest and skilled best to solve problems and move on well...for all.)
    I wish you and your workers trying to help all the best for all citizens UK the very best. Thank you. As a potential user of conveyancing solicitor in the next few weeks and not too sure where to go for the best service at this time, I would hope all further published helpful (not mass of useless stuff data, as is said.....Such is a hugely exaggerated & untrue statement, I believe, full stop. A great blessing in society today can be good statistics based on large truth data sets.), the like, can help such as me.
    With little money to my name, I feel that I am rather at the mercy of solicitors and that I am bound to trust any one of them...when I really do not know how they are doing in their work, as the local bank clerk, and all we, we would I hope, be keen to keep up his or her standards and 'CPD' and kind and honourable ways for all....and in, not too pressured, or nastily (or excess admin, as maybe teachers have ended up with), has a good eye, RESPECTFUL DISTANT eye,... kept on them, him/her, to help them, him/her, and all whom they seek to serve well.
    I hope that this message makes good sense in context and thanks!! also, of course!.. to our great sound solicitors UK 2018....of which there are many many great ones doing great service, & as best they can, for all, am very sure, about, UK 2018.
    Regards, and thanks,
    DM, Bristol.

    Reply
  10. Comment by Rebecca posted on

    Do you have a list of the 500 firms that can be published? Who are you contacting with this information at those firms.

    Reply
    • Replies to Rebecca>

      Comment by Andrew Robertson posted on

      Yes we do but we're not publishing that at the moment. The workbooks we are sending are going to a variety of different people depending on the contacts we have listed for those firms in our customer data.

      Your firm is one of those receiving the workbook.

      Reply
      • Replies to Andrew Robertson>

        Comment by Rebecca posted on

        Thanks Andrew. Have the workbooks already been sent? Please can you privately let me know what address you are using for us. Thank you.

        Reply
        • Replies to Rebecca>

          Comment by sguthrie posted on

          Hi Rebecca.
          I am replying on behalf of Andrew Robertson.
          The workbooks have been issued for October and November. The workbook containing data for December is due to be issued around 15 January so you may want to look out for that. Yes, certainly can let you know which contacts in your organisation we are using and I will do this privately as suggested. It's really important that this data reaches the right person in your organisation so letting us know of any changes is extremely helpful. Customers can contact us using customer.engagement2@landregistry.gov.uk to let us know of any changes if they have not already done so or if there are any changes in the future such as a recipient leaving. Thank you

          Reply
  11. Comment by SW posted on

    Registration is a small job at the end of an often lengthy and involved transaction which is often delegated to less highly qualified staff though usually such staff do develop a high level of expertise with practice.
    The point being that the proficiency shown or not shown in the registration process is not a helpful indication of more general conveyancing capability or performance.
    The Land Registry is claiming a level of diagnostic ability which it does not possess and will therefore mislead consumers.

    Reply
  12. Comment by Wyn posted on

    Sorry my last comments have not been published?

    Reply
    • Replies to Wyn>

      Comment by sguthrie posted on

      Apologies for the delay in replying Wyn. I have now responded to your previous comment. Thank you.

      Reply
  13. Comment by AdamH posted on

    Karl - one your solicitor will have to advise you on I'm afraid as we can't advise oyu on riskjs re exchange/completion. If they decide it is a risk then they need to ask the solicitor who submitted the TP1 to contact us with details re the linked transaction and the need for speed so to speak. We can then consider that request and expedite the process where possible.

    Reply
  14. Comment by Benedict posted on

    The fact that LR believes they hold data on the quality of conveyancers is both hilarious and frightening.

    They do not collect data accurately; staff do not use the pre-drafted requisitions properly, they re-draft them to fit, or use free format paragraphs them for things which are already catered for. Staff raise requisitions where none are required - a prime example being name discrepancies, but there are a large number of spurious requisitions raised. The figures are hopelessly skewed for all things but basic discharges.

    Further, LR do not understand the data they collect; if you deal with leasehold properties, you will have a high number of requisitions due to management company restrictions. There is nothing you can do about it, and it certainly is nothing to do with 'quality'. When requesting an extension I was once told by a caseworker that if I downloaded a copy of the register I would be able to check for requisitions.

    Likewise remo conveyancers. Practically 100% of transactions will be requisitioned, despite the fact that charges are redeemed on the day of completion.

    LR should be careful about what they think they are advertising. Such an over-extrapolation of data is highly frustrating, especially from a monopoly provider.

    Reply
    • Replies to Benedict>

      Comment by Andrew Robertson posted on

      Thanks for the comments, Benedict. Yes, we do need to improve the consistency and quality of our requisitions. The blog acknowledges this and makes the point that we see this as an integral part of our overall application quality strategy. All of our caseworkers are currently undergoing some additional training to help achieve this. But we do need to look to conveyancers to do better as well, as part of what we see as our shared responsibility for improving the conveyancing and registration process. Whatever the root causes, it's is no one's interests for HM Land Registry to be raising as many requisitions as we are currently and unable to complete the registration of so many applications.

      I think you overstate the case about the overall quality of the data and we certainly understand it better than you suggest. For example, we know about the impact of management company restrictions and are already working with the legal sector on policy change options aimed at improving that situation. In the meantime, publishing the data on the extent of the issue makes the case for change clearer. The same is true of requisitions relating to discharges. Redemptions may take place quickly as you say, but in a lot of cases there is a delay before the discharge evidence that will allow the outgoing charge to be removed from the register leading to many hundreds of requisitions every day. That is an unavoidable requisition from a conveyancer's point of view, but the fact remains it holds up the process of registration and leads to greater cost and less efficiency for all. Again, publishing the data makes the position clearer for everyone and reinforces the need for change.

      One of the keys to all of this is when we publish we explain what the data contains and put it in its proper context. We are working on this at the moment, and that process is involving consultation with the legal sector, the membership bodies and the regulators.

      Reply
  15. Comment by Andy posted on

    Also if one's work is primarily new build then there are always a greater percentage of requisitions (RX4s, DS3s, revised estate plans), none of which are available at the time of submission. As someone earlier points out, we are encouraged by the lenders to submit as soon as possible but the implication is that we should leave it as late as possible to appear 'of better quality'?

    Reply
    • Replies to Andy>

      Comment by Andrew Robertson posted on

      Yes it is the case that some firms will receive more requisitions because of the nature of the work that they do. We are looking at whether we can show in the data a breakdown of the requisitions raised so it can be seen how many arise from 'new title' or new build work.

      With regard to your second point, I would throw the question back at you is it right and appropriate for registration applications to be lodged that can't be processed and lead to additional time and cost to both conveyancers and HM Land Registry to administer? I appreciate there are no easy answers to any of these questions, but by publishing the data at least we can be clear and transparent as to the extent of the issue and use that to work with the profession, lenders and others to improve the position.

      Reply
      • Replies to Andrew Robertson>

        Comment by Andy posted on

        I take your point but I doubt mortgage lenders chasing us to upload evidence of AP1 submission to LMS etc will change their system as they would have no motivation/incentive to do so. We spoke to one of your colleagues directly who indicated that the best way would in fact be to leave submission until as late as possible so we will have to adopt this policy to minimise requisitions.

        Reply
        • Replies to Andy>

          Comment by Andrew Robertson posted on

          Just in case you're not already aware, we delay raising requisitions for discharges where that's the only point arising for two weeks because we know that sometimes the discharge evidence will come in during that time.

          Reply
        • Replies to Andy>

          Comment by Steve posted on

          Hi Andy,

          How could Lenders / LMS / Panel Management systems in general manage the approach to ensure they're not chasing for evidence of AP1 or other documentation where delays are holding up the submission? It feels a fine line between allowing the conveyancor the freedom to manage the delays and ensuring the process is undertaken as speedily as possible. Maybe having other options to select why a delay is occurring and assigning that blame to a law firm so there is data collated across a plethora of systems to allow Lenders to appreciate where the issues are arising (specific law firms).

          Reply
          • Replies to Steve>

            Comment by AdamH posted on

            Steve - Thanks for the suggestions. For now, we are looking to publish just the headline information – i.e. number and rate of requisitions raised – and so including data to indicate why required evidence requisitioned for is missing is out of scope. But we will consider what you have said against future iterations of the dataset.

  16. Comment by Babs Merotohun posted on

    I strongly believe that this is a tactical way by the LR of taking business from small local firms to the so called 500 firms. It appear to be an advertisement stunt or activities of lobbyist for the so called 500 firms

    Reply
    • Replies to Babs Merotohun>

      Comment by Andrew Robertson posted on

      That's not the case, Babs. Publishing the data on the top 500 firms by volume of lodgement of registration applications is simply a practical decision. There are quite a lot of firms that lodge just a handful of registration applications every month, and anyone who wants or needs to can see the full picture of the lodgement volumes of all conveyancers that have an account with us in the transaction datasets that we already publish.

      Reply
  17. Comment by Val posted on

    Since solicitors have no control over when lenders submit electronic discharges rather than raise a requisiton with us why can we not submit confirmation of redemption of the mortgage and the mortgage account number with our application and the Land Registry chase the lender if it is taking too long as it is more likely to react to you chasing than us?

    Reply
    • Replies to Val>

      Comment by Andrew Robertson posted on

      I don't think this would be appropriate Val. It is for conveyancers and lenders to ensure that the necessary evidence is provided.

      Reply
  18. Comment by Mark Cairns posted on

    Could you clarify the nature of the workbooks to which you refer
    Nobody at my firm has received them it would appear

    Reply
    • Replies to Mark Cairns>

      Comment by sguthrie posted on

      Good morning Mark,
      The workbooks are currently issued to those firms who lodge the highest volume of applications with HMLR.
      The workbooks contain data such as the number of applications lodged in a the previous month, the number of completed applications that have generated a requisition (where we have to contact you for further information) and details of the most common requisition points for your firm in that month. They are used as a tool to help firms see where they can possibly improve as well as being indicators to HMLR on where we need to improve the quality of the requisitions we send you.
      Having checked our list, I can see that your firm do not currently feature which explains the reason why you have not had sight of a workbook.
      We are not in a position to say whether we will extend the workbooks to more customers at this stage but we will certainly be keeping you informed.
      Thank you.

      Reply
  19. Comment by John Harvey posted on

    A firm of solicitors is advertising in the legal press that it will carry out the registration aspects alone of transactions. Practitioners might see this as a way of avoiding having information about their performance published.

    Has HMLR considered whether this is a good thing and if it will support the use of such specialists in

    a transfers of registered land and

    b first registrations?

    Reply
    • Replies to John Harvey>

      Comment by Andrew Robertson posted on

      Firms that just do the registration aspects of conveyancing would appear in the dataset if they have requisitions raised and they appear in the top 500 conveyancers by volume of lodged applications.

      We haven't been asked to consider the issue of specialist firms, but really this is a matter for the legal sector.

      Reply
  20. Comment by John Harvey posted on

    Thanks for the prompt reply

    I believe that the public would want to see registration carried out by those with specialisation and expertise in the subject. But a solicitor who has no knowledge or experience of the subject can take money off consumers for dealing with it. In a long conveyancing career, I always regarded matrimonial lawyers who believe that they are capable of dealing adequately with post-divorce property transactions as the worst people to deal with.

    Encourage higher standards by naming and shaming those who do not meet the mark by all means. But also encourage recognised expertise in the subject to help clients make a good choice .

    This is particularly important for first registrations where there will be a falling off of expertise as the push for comprehensive registration gathers pace

    Reply
  21. Comment by Chris posted on

    Solicitors should have, if they have lodged a protecting search, 30 days to lodge their application.
    Solicitors appear to not use this period to it's full advantage. Applications are, generally, submitted within a week of completion. If the solicitor waited for the outstanding documents they could then submit their application fully in order for processing without further requisitions. If they don't have the necessary docs they could submit the application later such as, 25 days in. The benefits are
    (a) reduces requisitions- time saved at LR enabling cases to be processed quicker- benefits all customers
    (b) reduces enquiries with solicitors- saves solicitors time dealing with LR letters
    (c) Solicitors will actually have longer to deal with outstanding matters. They will have the time prior to lodgement then the period that Land Registry will hold the application in abeyance. This could result in fewer cancelations

    Reply

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