https://hmlandregistry.blog.gov.uk/2018/03/05/find-property-information-the-easy-way/

Find property information: the easy way

Find information about a specific property

I’m Mina, the Product Owner for our Find property information service. You may have read about it in John Abbott’s recent blog about our digital services. Here I’ll update you on the exciting new updates to this service.

What is the service?

The Find property information (FPI) 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, if there is a mortgage on the property and the lender’s contact details.

Before FPI citizens downloaded the information and had to interpret it themselves. Now, the information is available in a simple, accessible summary that is easier to understand.

With earlier versions of FPI, we thought we’d got it right. Following continued user research we updated the service further by adding new features. I was delighted and extremely proud when the new version of this service passed its Government Digital Service (GDS) beta assessment in December 2017, meaning that the team’s hard work to ensure the service met GDS standards was well worth it.

Searching the Find Property Information service

What new features have we added?

We asked our customers what they wanted to see from the service and fed that directly back into the development stream. Following feedback we added the following features.

Electronic copies

One of the top priorities for our customers was the ability to keep an electronic copy of the title summary product, as they could only view and print the product. We added a simple download feature and monitored feedback to learn if this met customer needs.

Preview search results without signing in

Originally, the service asked customers to create an account and sign into the service before they could use it. Some customers were not happy going through this process only to find the service gave no information on the property they were interested in. We responded to this feedback by changing the service flow. Now you can do a property search and decide if the product meets your needs before signing in to purchase the information.

Enhanced address searching

We have enhanced our address searching feature, which was developed over a year ago. We knew then there were limitations to this feature and over time customer feedback told us that more and more customers had trouble finding the property they were interested in.

We also learnt that when customers come to the service they think in terms of addresses, but our address search results displayed land titles, which made search results confusing. They were also not always displayed in a logical order and the service limited search results to a maximum of 50, which didn’t provide the best user experience. We responded by displaying address results, including updated Ordnance Survey information, not titles, in a logical order and increasing results from 50 to 100.

Since we’ve implemented these changes, we have noticed a significant improvement in positive customer feedback.

So what’s next for Find property information?

Following on from the success of passing the GDS beta assessment, we’re working on the recommendations we received from GDS, which include working across government to improve the quality of our service. We will continue with product research and soon we’ll be launching a simple survey to understand better how our customers use the information we provide and how we can help further. We’ll continue to review customer feedback and evaluate existing features, making changes to the service that offer most value to our customers.

19 comments

  1. Comment by Andrew Prismall posted on

    Will this trigger an alert to an owner or their solcicitor who has registered for the HMLR “property alert” service. If they haven’t, will the owner be aware anyway that people are searching on their property?

    Andrew Prismall
    Chairman, IPSA

    Reply
    • Replies to Andrew Prismall>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Andrew - a search online using either the Find Property or indeed the Find a Property service does not trigger a notification via the Property Alert service and nor is the owner notified of the search.
      The Property Alert service will issue a notificaiton only in certain circumstances where there is significant activity such as a priority Official Search (OS1/OS2 and not a search in the context of this article) or an actual application to change the register https://www.gov.uk/guidance/property-alert

      Reply
      • Replies to AdamH>

        Comment by Steve Butler posted on

        Do you keep records of the names and contact details of people who make these searches to assist in providing evidence of fraud if it occurs?

        Reply
        • Replies to Steve Butler>

          Comment by ianflowers posted on

          Yes and where details are held by the third party that processes payment these details can be requested by law enforcement agencies from the payment provider.

          Reply
      • Replies to AdamH>

        Comment by Andrew Prismall posted on

        Thank you Adam. Is there a GDPR consideration?

        Reply
        • Replies to Andrew Prismall>

          Comment by ianflowers posted on

          Andrew - I'm replying as Adam is currently unavailable. We don't anticipate so, but we will give information and clarification on the impact of GDPR in due course.

          Reply
  2. Comment by DebC posted on

    What is the difference between this new service and the existing "Enquiry by Property Description - title view" from which you can find leasehold and freehold title numbers? You still have to pay to see the title so it seems to be no different to obtaining office copy entries.

    Reply
    • Replies to DebC>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      DebC - there is no real difference but the Find Property Information service is available to all. The 'Enquiry by property description' you refer to is part of our wider range of online business e-services which are not available to all

      Reply
  3. Comment by John Harvey posted on

    Good news . I was fearing that non-business users were being left behind.

    It is very important that owners can find information before the lack of this creates a difficult situation. When working in local government I was frequently asked to search ownership of a property leaking water into another. The ability to use the service to help with such matters should be publicised.

    Reply
  4. Comment by Clive Smith posted on

    I’m concerned that making this easier will lead to more incidents of property fraud! I appreciate the reasons for transparency but there is a risk involved. The earlier comment about your being notified if someone is searching your title should be built in to the service.

    Reply
    • Replies to Clive Smith>

      Comment by ianflowers posted on

      As you have mentioned, increased transparency has benefits and can act as a safeguard against fraud, for example, to making easy to check someone's claim to ownership.

      We will consider the suggestions made regarding notification as part of the development process. For our part, we do have rigourous policies in place to combat registration fraud, of which property alert is just one element. We keep these polices under continual review. This is in addition to the checks that legal professionals make when acting in property transactions.

      Reply
      • Replies to ianflowers>

        Comment by Jane Smith posted on

        I htink the balance is just right. I search titles regularly and I would regard it a breach of privacy rights for everyone to know who was searching (and I am certainly not involved in any frauds).
        The fact it seems a record is kept of the search is good enough.

        It is a big issue on line - are you shown who has clicked on your on line profile on linked in or facebook etc or is that private and when. It is certainly not something to change quickly.

        Reply
  5. Comment by Allyson Talbot posted on

    I completely agree with previous comments about the importance of being notified if someone is looking at the title to your property.
    There may be a completely innocent reason for the search - but forewarned is forearmed.
    I do hope that the Land Registry will enhance its Property Alert service to cater for this.

    Reply
    • Replies to Allyson Talbot>

      Comment by ianflowers posted on

      Thank you for your feedback. We have no plans to do this at the current time and the currently alerts are triggered by those applications which indicate or represent a change to the register. But we do keep our counter fraud policies under continual review and will consider the comments made about notification as part of this and also as part of the development process for this service.

      Reply
  6. Comment by Audrey Blackwell posted on

    I Too am most anxious that someone can look at my property without my knowing as i only registered with the Land Register in the first place so that my property would be private and not for sale so i do not want anyone looking at my property at all.

    Reply
    • Replies to Audrey Blackwell>

      Comment by ianflowers posted on

      I understand your concerns, but the open register is the norm in most countries in Europe and indeed the world. An open register supports transparency which can itself be a safeguard against fraud. Please see our information on the steps owners can take to help safeguard against fraud - https://www.gov.uk/protect-land-property-from-fraud .

      Reply
    • Replies to Audrey Blackwell>

      Comment by Jane Smith posted on

      The register was made open including prices paid from about 1995. Not all of us think that was right or wise but that decision was taken. Now that it is open I think it would breach more privacy rights to tell people who has searched than to keep that private just as someone can drive down your street and see who comes and goes within the law.

      Reply
  7. Comment by Roger West posted on

    As well as obtaining a copy of the Title Register it would be so useful if I could also download a copy of the lease at the same time. I am a financial adviser and this would help me to improve the quality of advice and information I supply to my clients, most of whom don't understand leases.

    Reply

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