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https://hmlandregistry.blog.gov.uk/2020/11/09/improving-our-service-speeds/

Improving our service speeds

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Buying and selling property, Law and practice

Following on from the Prime Minister’s announcement on the public health measures implemented across England, I wanted to take this opportunity to share an operational update from HM Land Registry.

I want to reassure our customers the latest measures will not impact our service levels, as nearly all our staff are equipped to work remotely. We are now well placed to maintain these service levels in the light of these changes, and in the event of any further local or national lockdowns.

Before I get into any more detail on what we’re doing, I wanted to give a quick update on our current estimated completion times.

Simple updates to the register

  • This makes up most of our service requests and we’ve seen a big improvement since the peak in June when the majority of most simple applications were taking around 2 months – the time it takes to process these requests has more than halved.
  • Most of these requests are taking around 3 weeks. More than half are processed in just over a week but in some instances it can take up to a month.
  • However around a fifth of all applications require us to make requests for information (requisitions) – which then take considerably longer, with most only being completed after 6 weeks.

Complex changes and new entries

  • The other applications we receive are more complex and usually involve the creation of a new title.
  • Most of these applications are completed within 9 months but we know that some can take up to 11 months, with exceptional cases taking even longer.

These times are what can be expected for applications being processed now. I appreciate that some of the more complex applications lodged previously have already been with us for longer than these times.

We are able to expedite urgent applications – the majority of all expedited applications are processed within 10 working days. We know that the market is extremely busy at the moment. We are putting measures in place to ensure we can expedite all applications that need to be processed urgently for reasons relating to the Stamp Duty Land Tax holiday.

Working to improve our services

Our absolute top priority is to reduce any delays, both those caused by the pandemic and those existing beforehand. Our current processing times are not where we want them to be in the longer term, and we are absolutely determined to reduce them. We are constantly reviewing our position and adjusting our resources where necessary to ensure we simultaneously deliver our services and promote public health in the most effective way. We have also extended the opening hours of our Customer Support Centre until 5pm each day.

In addition, we are recruiting more than 500 new colleagues, many of whom are joining us soon, and all of whom will be in place early in the new year. Behind the scenes we have numerous programmes promoting the most efficient and effective ways to undertake our work; from ensuring applications are seen by caseworkers as quickly as possible, with less time allocated to administrative work and more time on actual casework, and adopting the innovative use of new technologies to improve our casework systems. I will bring you more detail on these projects in future updates.

The impact of requisitions

One aspect of our work that continues to have a real impact on the speed of our services is the number of applications we receive with errors or omissions, meaning we need to send out requests for information (requisitions).

Around 1 in every 5 applications contains an error or lacks crucial information. In September we completed more than 300,000 applications to change the register – of these, 64,000 had at least one requisition request. Many of these are avoidable errors – for example, we know that on average around 12.5%, or 1 out of every 8 requisitions, are due to name variations. This all costs time and money to process, and ultimately slows everything down for those transacting in property.

From mid-November we will be resuming the practice of cancelling applications with outstanding requisitions. At the start of the coronavirus pandemic we paused all cancellations to give our customers additional time to gather the information needed. However, as there are now an increasing number of applications which are building up and resulting in some delays, we need to resume cancellations. I would encourage customers to not wait for a reminder letter to respond to any outstanding requisitions.

If you think you may have outstanding requisitions, I would encourage using our recent enhancement to the HM Land Registry portal – View My Applications. All users of the portal can access this free-to-use service, via the left-hand navigation bar, to view their portal-lodged applications as well as all the relevant correspondence – including requisitions. You can reply to each requisition using the Reply to requisition service in the portal.

Watch our short video (49 seconds).

View My Applications has gained lots of positive customer feedback and we currently have around 7,000 users accessing the new service every day. We will soon introduce a new feature, Estimated Completion Date, which we plan to launch in early 2021. Estimated Completion Date will show a date for each portal-lodged application, updated monthly, all on one screen.

In addition, our new Digital Registration Service (available to all users later this year) will digitise and simplify how you submit your applications to us by checking the information as you add it in. This will help you avoid some of the more common errors and ultimately speed up turnaround times by reducing requisitions.

Watch our short video (1 minute 11 seconds).

Listening to our customers

We are always listening to what our customers are telling us about our services and doing everything we can to respond quickly. At the start of the pandemic we heard that customers wanted us to start accepting electronic signatures. So we brought forward our work on this area.

Alongside the ‘Mercury signing approach’, we have now started accepting witnessed electronic signatures. Our next step is to release our draft practice for the other form of electronic signature – qualified electronic signatures. We will also be releasing draft guidance on the use of digital identity checks, enabling simple online-only ID checking. I hope that you will let us know your thoughts on this draft so we can make sure the eventual practice meets your needs.

We are conducting research so we can learn more about the priorities of our customers’ client work and the transactions our customers rely on the most to complete. This research will inform our longer-term focus on how we deploy our resources to meet best those priorities. We want to make sure the way we work truly complements the way you work. As with our work on electronic signatures, we place the needs of our customers at the heart of our decision-making process. We’ve got an early idea of where everyone’s priorities lie but before we respond to these we will continue to talk to a representative spread of customers. We hope to update you more over the coming months.

We welcome your comments about this blog in the comments below. Please note that we are unable to discuss individual cases through the comments section and would request that all such queries be directed to our contact web form where you will receive a response as soon as possible.

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68 comments

  1. Comment by Jeffrey Shaw, Nether Edge Law posted on

    Despite all that, and whilst everyone knows the Virus-related problems, it remains the case that delays on TP1/DFL applications ("Register Create") exceeded six months even before the national service breakdowns. Our record at present is two applications over 14mths. old plus three extant others dating from 2019. Might HMLR spend- say- three or four working days of officer time on clearing this type of backlog, diverting the officers from "Register Update" work? A small delay like that would have hardly any impact on applicants affected but would greatly assist TP1/DFL applicants.

    And as for Requisitions: it would assist if we did not receive ones demanding a plan in cases where we use the second option in panel 3 of TP1 and cross-refer to a plan already held by HMLR!

    Reply
    • Replies to Jeffrey Shaw, Nether Edge Law>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Jeffrey Shaw - Thank you for your comment, and we apologise for the significant delays on those applications which is much longer than we would expect for any application so we will investigate that for you.
      Some application types are taking us longer than others – some are taking much longer than we’d like. We have been asking customers which applications are the most important to them so that we could ensure we have the right number of staff on each application type.
      Based on what they are telling us we believe the balance is right, considering that simple register updates account for over 80% of the thousands of applications we receive each day. However, we are implementing a series of initiatives to reduce overall completion times and we are confident those will make a positive impact for our customers

      Reply
  2. Comment by Frederick Martin posted on

    In this article Chris Pope states under 'Complex changes and new entries'
    "The other applications we receive are more complex and usually involve the creation of a new title. Most of these applications are completed within 9 months but we know that some can take up to 11 months, with exceptional cases taking even longer."
    In the 25/09/20 (Covid-19) email sent from Simon Hayes your Chief Executive it states that "most other (ie non-simple) application types are taking up to 6 months to complete".
    The delay position has obviously worsened in the 45 days between the two articles then.
    In my case I voluntarily submitted a first registration TP1/DFL application. I am not a business user so your 'View My Applications' is of no value to me or any other private individual in finding out any progress on my application via the HMLR portal.

    Reply
    • Replies to Frederick Martin>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Frederick - thanks for your comment and apologies for the delay in publishing and replying
      Many non-simple applications are still taking up to 6 months as indicated in Simon Hayes’ e-mail. But in this blog we wished to reflect that other more complex ones are taking longer even than that, some of them considerably longer.
      I take your point about your not being able to access View My Application as a private individual. You can however ask us for an update on your application by contacting us online
      https://help.landregistry.gov.uk/app/contactus_general

      Reply
      • Replies to AdamH>

        Comment by Frederick Martin posted on

        Dear Adam, thank you for your response.
        Today I submitted my 'whereabouts are we?' enquiry on my application, using the link you provided.
        Within 10 minutes I received a proforma email response stating;-
        "If we haven’t already contacted you about your application, then work on your application has not yet been started so we cannot give you an accurate date when your application will be dealt with".
        This response makes no mention of your 6 months statement but does actually say that most complex changes AND new entries are completed within 9 months.
        Given that 3 months has passed and no work on my application has commenced, can you confirm that if I were to cancel my application now, HMLR will refund in full my £200 and return my original documentation deeds etc?
        regards Frederick

        Reply
        • Replies to Frederick Martin>

          Comment by AdamH posted on

          Frederick - if work has not begun and you withdraw your application then the fee will be ref7bded and available documentation returned

          Reply
          • Replies to AdamH>

            Comment by Frederick Martin posted on

            Thank you Adam for your fast response. I'll withdraw the application today and that will allow another to move up the ladder.
            many thanks
            Frederick Martin

  3. Comment by Georgia posted on

    We have had no timescale this is my point.

    Reply
    • Replies to Georgia>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Georgia - expedition means considered with8n 2 weeks of being expedited. It then depends on it being in order as to whether it’s done quickly or takes more time. The solicitor should be able to provide the details re the specific application and it’s progress. I can only comment in general terms as you’ve not shared any specifics

      Reply
  4. Comment by A L Evans posted on

    What are the current timescales for dealing with adverse possession applications relating to registered land, where a surveyor's site visit is required?

    Reply
    • Replies to A L Evans>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      A L Evans - if a site visit is required then they generally happen within 2 weeks of Ordnance Survey receiving the request from us.
      So you are looking at a 7/8 week wait from receipt by us to a site visit being completed. You should also factor in wider checks required, if any, after the survey report has been considered. Wider checks can take a few weeks at least to complete

      Reply
  5. Comment by Amy posted on

    How long should it take to remove a vacated charge at present?

    Reply
    • Replies to Amy>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Amy - most legal charges (mortgages) are discharged electronically, so immediately. I assume from your reference to a ‘vacated charge’ that it’s not a mortgage with a well known lender so if it’s a paper application you are looking at an initial wait time of 4/5 weeks plus potentially 3 weeks for wider checks to complete

      Reply
      • Replies to AdamH>

        Comment by Sam posted on

        Hi Adam, Just wondering if you knew the answer to my question. Can the mortgage be removed first before the name is changed? The title deeds are still in the wrong name but the mortgage has been removed. Just wondering if the solicitor has made a mistake or if the name and lenders removal get updated at different times. Thanks

        Reply
        • Replies to Sam>

          Comment by AdamH posted on

          Sam - two very separate matters as the lender’s security is against the property/registered title. The owner/borrower names only matter when the charge is going on the register. Not when it’s coming off

          Reply
    • Replies to Amy>

      Comment by Gardner posted on

      Hi Amy, Just wondering if you knew the answer to my question. Can the mortgage be removed first before the name is changed? Our title deeds are still in the wrong names but the mortgage has been removed. Thanks

      Reply
  6. Comment by Catherine O’Keeffe posted on

    I’m waiting for a TP1 to be processed for a transaction that completed almost a year ago. I just get pro forma responses and I have no idea when it will be processed. It is really stressful and I can’t see any way to get a concrete answer.

    Reply
    • Replies to Catherine O’Keeffe>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Catherine - we do have a backlog of this type of work and some will be over a year old. If we still have it and it’s waiting to be processed then there is nothing to stress over as your purchase is protected. There’s nothin to add to the auto response provided in such cases
      I would recon end you speak to your conveyancer to confirm it has been submitted and if it’s still showing as waiting to be processed. If it is then please bear with us and once completed the conveyancer will be the first to know.

      Reply
      • Replies to AdamH>

        Comment by CATHERINE O'KEEFFE posted on

        Thanks Adam, Yes it definitely has been submitted but the conveyancer just gets the pro forma messages saying it is waiting and there is no indication of when it will be processed.
        I am sure you can imagine that it is stressful to have spent a lot of money on a property and yet not have the formal paperwork to confirm ownership.

        Reply
        • Replies to CATHERINE O'KEEFFE>

          Comment by AdamH posted on

          Catherine - many thanks and understood. Totally appreciate how stressful things can be but the key here is that you completed, got the keys and own the property. Whilst the registration and paperwork do matter the wait time, in your case, has been stretched but it is not something to get stressed about providing the application is with us and your purchase is protected, which it is.
          Easy for me to type of course but it really is a case of not worrying about it as you know you/your solicitor have done all that is legally required and it will be registered as soon as possible.

          Reply
  7. Comment by Amanda posted on

    The house we are buying is not registered with land registry and they do not have deeds. How long will this process take ? Solicitors made application back in September.

    Reply
    • Replies to Amanda>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Amanda - several months unless they request expedition and provide documentary evidence of the confirmed sale/purchase. Speak to the lodging solicitor and ask them to request same as appropriate

      Reply
  8. Comment by Amanda Foster posted on

    Adam- The solicitors have gift of deed, will this speed up the process ?

    Reply
    • Replies to Amanda Foster>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Amanda - no as assume that relates to the current owner. If you are confirmed as the buyer, so there’s a memorandum of sale for example, then it’s that plus their request we need.
      Your/their solicitor will know what’s needed

      Reply
  9. Comment by Howard Phillips posted on

    My wife is in the process of agreeing the sale of part of a large garden she owns and has applied for this piece of her title to be transferred into our joint names before sale. How long is this process currently taking as we lodged all relevant paper work via our solicitor in July 2020 for this transfer and are still waiting for completion.
    Also we may now possibly lose this sale given the delay in being able to provide proof of ownership over this garden by not having these documents. How quick would it be to cancel this application altogether and revert to selling this land proving ownership under my wife original title deed.

    Reply
    • Replies to Howard Phillips>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Howard - several more months to wait if lodged in July. If you’ve had a confirmed buyer/linked transaction why hasn’t the solicitor requested expedition?
      Options are to do that now or cancel it, both by solicitor. Each would usually be considered within 5/7 working days

      Reply
  10. Comment by Howard Phillips posted on

    Thanks for the swift response. When contacted my solicitor they have said they they have tried to expedite but will try again. Will they have a reference number or some other communication reference if they have previously tried and been agreed / refused expedition.
    Several more months will definitely lose us the sale are we taking weeks if we cancel the transfer request. thanks

    Reply
    • Replies to Howard Phillips>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Howard - they’ll have a reference. If they’ve lodged it online they need to request it through same portal/Application enquiry.
      They’ll only be refused if the6 haven’t provided documentary evidence. And if they heard nothing then they used the wrong channel

      Reply
      • Replies to AdamH>

        Comment by Howard Phillips posted on

        Adam I'm still trying to get a coherent response from my solicitors office regarding the expediting of the title change which is holding up our sale contract. Is there any way you can check your online system and tell me if a request to expedite has been submitted correctly in respect of a part transfer to joint names for a parcel of land out of title no CYM373744 in the last couple of months. I was informed they would try and expedite in Nov.
        I am trying to contact them to obtain any reference no of said application
        Thanks.

        Reply
        • Replies to Howard Phillips>

          Comment by AdamH posted on

          Howard - it’s not been expedited as yet but I’ll flag with colleagues to see if they can help.
          The solicitors did ask when they submitted it but we won’t have seen that as applications aren’t checked until they get considered
          They asked again in early Dec but didn't provide any documentary evidence to confirm the sale/purchase. We replied telling them that but no reply back.
          In circumstances ask them to reply and send a copy of the memorandum of sale or similar. I’ll see if we can get the ball rolling this end though in meantime.
          Tough times for everybody at the moment

          Reply
          • Replies to AdamH>

            Comment by Howard Phillips posted on

            Adam - Many thanks I have now forwarded our chain of communication to and spoken with my solicitor so they are aware they need to respond. Your assistance has been excellent and hopefully it can help to get me back on track and save my sale.
            Howard

  11. Comment by Robert Brown posted on

    Hi Adam

    I made an application for adverse possession (as a private individual) in July 2020. [CL357836/TP/078]. Can you give me any idea when this might be processed?

    Thanks

    Rob

    Reply
    • Replies to Robert Brown>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Robert - a few months at least wait still before it’s considered I suspect based on current timescales.

      Reply
  12. Comment by tesh Dave posted on

    Hello. Can you advise roughly how long an extension of lease takes? This would be on a flat Purchase. My assumption is this should be a simple change?

    Reply
    • Replies to tesh Dave>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Tesh - several months wait time between receipt and processing. When a lease is extended the old lease is surrendered and a new title created. It therefore falls into the complex category.
      But the wait time is very much down to the backlog of work with Covid impacting as well now

      Reply
      • Replies to AdamH>

        Comment by Tejshree Dave posted on

        Ok thank you for the swift reply. Really helpful information.

        Reply
  13. Comment by Matt posted on

    We will be lodging an application for a lease extension on our share of freehold property this week. This extension is required for our purchase of a family home and this sale will fall through without an expedited application. Is the stated 10 day period (for simple applications that are correct) for expedited applications still current? Thanks so much

    Reply
    • Replies to Matt>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Matt - 10 days between expedite approval and it being considered is correct. But it has to then be in order to be completed.
      Just make sure that it’s lodged and the conveyancer requests expedition after that. If they do it with the application nobody will see the request

      Reply
      • Replies to AdamH>

        Comment by Matt posted on

        That’s great, many thanks Adam. As a follow up, how long are lease extensions taking that are not expedited?

        Reply
  14. Comment by Frederick Martin posted on

    Adam - I have received a circular letter from the Weymouth office dated 05/01/2021 with their reference DX 321601 Gloucester 33. This talks of increased processing times for first applications and similar.
    You might ask the originator of this letter to try his own advised link i.e. https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/land-registry/about/about-our-services and explain where on the latter page HMLRs current position is shown. Maybe It's me but I cannot find any such information there.
    Although I cancelled my application about 6 weeks ago due to the processing delay I still consider myself a 'live' client as I haven't yet received my application fee refund.
    kind regards

    Reply
    • Replies to Frederick Martin>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Frederick - I understand that the letters you refer to are currently being reviewed to ‘match’ the linked guidance you have linked to. That review and amendment should happen shortly so apologies.
      Do you have our reference from the letter please?
      There is a delay in issuing refunds and if you can give me our reference from the cancellation letter also I can try to find out a timescale for the refund to be issued?

      Reply
  15. Comment by Frederick Martin posted on

    Adam - the HMLR letter ref from the Weymouth office is SH55003/FR/101.
    The cancellation acknowledgement letter was an email dated 20/11/2020 from The Central Team at the Durham office which shows the following:
    Enquiry ref. 201124-004547
    Application ref. SB0D6DB
    Title No. SH55003
    As I heard no more I did chase up the cancellation by phone on 4th Jan. On 5th Jan I had a phone call to say the deeds would be returned by recorded delivery and they arrived on 7th Jan with a covering letter of 5th Jan, ref SB0D6DB. The letter merely said my £200 will be refunded asap separately.
    I was not aware that refunds are also under delay at HMRL so am now very curious what sort of timescale you will be advising.

    Reply
    • Replies to Frederick Martin>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Frederick - many thanks. The cheque should be issued with this week’s print run so please bear with us
      Unfortunately the way first registrations are working at present there is a considerable time lag between stages as access to paper records/offices remains severely limited. What would take a short time previously is taking much much longer as you are now aware.

      Reply
      • Replies to AdamH>

        Comment by Frederick Martin posted on

        Adam - thank you for your fast responses and your help in the past.
        kind regards
        Frederick Martin

        Reply
  16. Comment by Aamir Khan posted on

    Hi ,

    Could you let me know the avg turn over time for amalgamating a Freehold and Sub Leasehold Titles - Freehold Title one - as i own both.
    (Missing head lease )

    Reply
    • Replies to Aamir Khan>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Aamir - 6/7 weeks wait time before it’s considered

      Reply
  17. Comment by Aamir Khan posted on

    Considered or completed ? 6/7 weeks ?

    Thanks

    Reply
  18. Comment by Aamir Khan posted on

    Thank you for you reply,

    When you say considered
    is that a completion time scale 6/7 weeks?

    Reply
    • Replies to Aamir Khan>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Aamir - if it’s all in order it can be completed at same time. But if it’s not and we need more or have to carry out wider checks. So I can only really quote that wait time timescale.

      Reply
      • Replies to AdamH>

        Comment by Aamir Khan posted on

        Thank you

        application was made on 16.12.20
        came back 21.01.21

        I'm impressed

        Reply
  19. Comment by Kelly posted on

    Hi Adam

    My solicitor will be submitting a transfer of equity request today (transferring from a joint tenancy to one owner). Once you have received a transfer of equity request (no monies involved), on average how long will it take? A new house purchase is dependent on the transfer taking place.

    Reply
    • Replies to Kelly>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Kelly - 5/6 week wait. If there’s an urgency they need to request expedition after they’ve lodged it. They should know how to do that

      Reply
  20. Comment by Lullani posted on

    We had confirmation from our solicitor that are lease extension has been accepted to be expedited on 22nd December 2020. We are currently going through a sale and we are unable to proceed until the lease extension is registered. Is it correct that it should take up to 10 working days for this to be completed, as it has been expedited? Therefore should be completed this week? Many thanks,

    Reply
    • Replies to Lullani>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Lullani - up to 10 working days before it’s considered, not completed. If it’s all in order and can be completed then that can happen at the same time. If it can’t be then the extra time needed will vary depending on what’s needed

      Reply
      • Replies to AdamH>

        Comment by Lullani posted on

        We have been advised by our solictor that a lease extension that has been expedited can take up to 2-3 weeks including completion. Having the expedited being accepted on the 22nd Dec 2020 will we still have to wait more than 10 working days for it to be registered? As this has held up our house purchase for over 5 months now and worried we will lose the sale and purchase.

        Reply
        • Replies to Lullani>

          Comment by AdamH posted on

          Lullani - if it’s not in order then yes but if it’s in order no. Speak to your solicitor as they should be able to check and reassure you

          Reply
  21. Comment by Lullani posted on

    I have been advised by our solicitor that is dealing with our lease extension that they are unable to contact Land Registry to check on the progress of our lease extension due to the case workers workload and due to Covid. Is there any chance as the client we can check on the progress?... We were forwarded the email that was sent from Land Registry regarding the confirmation the lease being expedited.

    Reply
    • Replies to Lullani>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Lullani - I assume they mean they are unable to operate fully. Not us. What’s the title number/case reference please?

      Reply
  22. Comment by Lullani posted on

    Title number: WSX420905 and application reference is: LE66C29 (enquiry reference: 201221-003836). If you could find out the progress of this, it would be much appreciated. Many thanks.

    Reply
    • Replies to Lullani>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Lullani - many thanks. That request and the application were completed on 23rd Dec so your conveyancer should be aware by now

      Reply
  23. Comment by Lullani posted on

    Can I just confirm that you mean that the lease extension has now been completed and registered with Land registry. Many thanks.

    Reply
  24. Comment by Lullani posted on

    Many thanks for checking on this for me. Will my solicitors now have the documentation for this, so that I will be able to send it to our conveyancer?

    Reply
    • Replies to Lullani>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Lullani - I would think so but best to check with them. Your conveyancer would be getting their own copy of the title though I suspect

      Reply
  25. Comment by Sarah Robson posted on

    We are currently purchasing a house which was owned solely by Wife, who predeceased Husband. Husband is now deceased and we are buying from the estate.

    The property was never legally transferred to Husband and Wife’s death.

    We have been told that the application to correct this has been submitted. What is the timescale from submission to the correction of title (both for expedited or not)? We are very nervous about missing the SDLT deadline and the vendors solicitors are not forthcoming.

    Is there any cost to requesting expedition?

    Reply
    • Replies to Sarah Robson>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Sarah - 5/6 week wait normally before it’s considered. That’s reduced to 2 weeks or less if expedited. There’s no expedition fee as it’s based on a genuine urgency such as a dependent transaction being proven

      Reply

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