https://hmlandregistry.blog.gov.uk/2018/02/07/flexible-digital-services/

Flexible digital services, fit for the future

HM Land Registry - Working today on a digital tomorrow
Sdecoret/Shutterstock.com

In my last blog post, I wrote about our commitment "to become the world’s leading land registry for speed, simplicity and an open approach to data", and how we have started to look at how technology and digital projects will change the way we work in the future. In this blog post, I want to take a look at the current projects we’re working on, the services they will produce, and how these are already affecting that future.

Digital Street

I spoke about Digital Street in my last post. I want to cover it again here as it is one of our key projects, and vital to our new Business Strategy. It is also fundamentally different to the other services I will discuss below.

Digital Street is our ground-breaking research and development project that is exploring how technology can revolutionise land registration and conveyancing in the future. Unlike ‘Sign Your Mortgage Deed’ and ‘Find Property Information’ which I discuss below, Digital Street isn’t a digital service, it’s an ongoing research project where we can explore and visualise different ideas, working with our partners to see what difference they could make.

We’ve already created a digital register for a small selection of properties, which is a first step towards having a register that is fully machine-readable and able to be updated instantly.

We worked with our partners to create three concepts (potential ideas) that demonstrated what services could be achieved with a digital register. To be clear we’re not saying these concepts should or even will ever be created by the market or that they would even be created by us, they are just visualising an idea.

Digital Street will provide an opportunity for us to work closely with property technology (PropTech), financial technology (FinTech) and law technology (LawTech) start-ups and innovative businesses, such as challenger banks, to explore how a digital register might enable new business models to make conveyancing simpler, faster and cheaper.

The learning from Digital Street will inform our current digital services, both now and in their future development. Digital Street is our way of contributing towards a property industry where people will buy, rent, sell, finance, build and manage the property with ease.

To find out more about what we’ve been doing on Digital Street, watch our video:

Digital mortgage

Now for a project that will result in a live service for our customers. First up, our new ‘Sign Your Mortgage Deed’ service will help to simplify the remortgage process, speed-up registration and reduce some of the overall timescales.

We’ve done this by working with a number of lenders, conveyancers, and members of the home-owning public to create a service that will meet their needs.

Put simply, ‘Sign Your Mortgage Deed’ will replace the paper mortgage deed, digitising the process for homeowners who are remortgaging. No longer will a customer need a witness to observe as they put a wet signature on a mortgage deed. ‘Sign Your Mortgage Deed’ makes use of GOV.UK Verify, enabling identity to be verified and mortgage deeds to be digitally signed. To reduce errors and to ensure the integrity of the register, we’ve built in safeguards to ensure the names on the deed match those in the register.

We’ve worked with the market, listening to users’ pain points to establish what could improve the remortgage process. We’re excited about ‘Sign Your Mortgage Deed’ and are looking forward to seeing how it will enable transformation in the remortgage process when we bring it to the market later in the year.

HM Land Registry - Working today on a digital tomorrow
Ramcreations/Shutterstock.com

Find Property Information

Second up, our ‘Find Property Information’ service allows citizens to download a summary of information about a property including the address, title number, current owner’s name and address, what they paid for the property, whether it is freehold or leasehold, whether there is a mortgage on the property and the lender’s contact details.

We were delighted that ‘Find Property Information’ passed its Government Digital Service (GDS) beta assessment in December 2017, following our work with GDS to ensure our services meet GDS standards.

While this information about a property has been available for years, it hasn’t been presented in an easy to understand format. We have built ‘Find Property Information’ based on user feedback to make it easier to use and understand. We’re keen for this information to be easily accessible, to enable potential homebuyers to make firm decisions so that they can ultimately form tighter chains. We’re continuing to develop ‘Find Property Information’, so get in touch if you’re interested in testing the service.

HM Land Registry - Working today on a digital tomorrow
Spainter_vfx/Shutterstock.com

Making the way for digital, by changing our rules

It’s not just about developing brand new digital services like ‘Sign Your Mortgage Deed’ and ‘Find Property Information’ or doing research and development like Digital Street.

To enable us to become the world’s leading land registry for speed, simplicity and an open approach to data we will need some changes to our legislation so we can do things differently. Early last year we sought views, through a public consultation, from our customers, stakeholders, and others with an interest in the property market on ‘Proposals to amend the Land Registration Rules 2003’. Following some excellent and insightful responses, we confirmed the amendments to the Rules and now can proceed with building new and more flexible services through digital technology. The rule changes will allow us to introduce fully digital conveyancing documents such as mortgages and transfers.

I was recently interviewed by Mortgage Solutions magazine where I shared my thoughts about the future of conveyancing and the role we have to play in it. It is difficult to predict what the future of conveyancing and land registration will be. However, we are committed to ensuring HM Land Registry is a flexible, responsive and customer-focused organisation.  Our commitment to becoming the world’s leading land registry for speed, simplicity and an open approach to data will ensure we are fully prepared for future innovations in the property sector, whatever they may be.

I want to echo what Graham Farrant, our Chief Executive, said in our Annual Report and Accounts 2016/17 and reach out to our many customers and stakeholders. Please join, support and partner with us as we explore how we can work together digitally to continue to make conveyancing simpler, faster and cheaper for everyone. I’m looking forward to reading your comments below.

9 comments

  1. Comment by Russell Davidson posted on

    Until the Land Registry recognises that the vast majority of commercial leases these days are sub 7 years in length and insists on them being registered we will never have the comprehensive register they speak of. There is a huge gap in publicised market data and that needs addressing.

    Reply
    • Replies to Russell Davidson>

      Comment by Michael Wells posted on

      That would mean another layer of needless bureaucracy the costs of which could not be passed onto the Client and would have to be absorbed by high street solicitors already on slim margins!

      Reply
  2. Comment by Roger Baldwin posted on

    Can I suggest that the current service of searching for entries for a title is changed to show the last date it was updated without having to download copy entries.

    The reason for this is that we can find the title and what documents are available to download but we cannot see whether a recent pending application had been finished as the pending applications area only shows whilst a live pending application is being processed.

    It would save costs not to download another copy of the register if we could see the last date it was updated .

    Reply
    • Replies to Roger Baldwin>

      Comment by ianflowers posted on

      Thank you for your feedback and sorry for the delay in replying. We do gather and consider user feedback and your comments will be considered for future changes to the service.

      Reply
  3. Comment by Dolores Houslin posted on

    I believe the whole leasehold should also be looked at. I feel that only flats in blocks should remain leasehold and maisobettes and houses changed into two or at the Most your should become common freehold. Or the option to buy freehold should be automatic when the property goes under 80 years instead of renewing a lease which really doesn't make sense especially if it's 999 yrs. Just a thought.

    Reply
  4. Comment by Michael Hinton posted on

    Hi John

    Very very interesting read indeed.

    I sent over an email this morning, in short I would love to talk to you around some of the projects you've mentioned in your recent blog posts.

    We'd not be coming on the angle of the 'hard sell' and I do appreciate you may have aspirations to use VERIFY on ‘Sign Your Mortgage Deed’ for example. We've worked quite a few organisations in Government and we would love to learn a little more about you/LM Land registry even if it's just a quick 30 minute call.

    Please let me know your thoughts...

    Reply
    • Replies to Michael Hinton>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Michael - emails received. Thank you. Someone will respond to them shortly

      Reply
  5. Comment by jackscott posted on

    I find it incredible that land registry is considering such far reaching changes when the login to land registry facilities is so archaic. How can anyone have confidence in a new system when the old one is so badly built that it defies logic and frustrates users on a daily basis.

    Reply
    • Replies to jackscott>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      h a slow approval and response. We are aware that a small number of customers have and do have issues logging into some of our online services. We are working on a solution to this issue alongside some of the work detailed in the blog. In the meantime, if you are having any problems please don’t hesitate to contact us on 0300 006 0411

      Reply

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