Every day HM Land Registry receives around 18,000 applications to update the register. The majority of these applications are submitted correctly with all the necessary information included for our land registration experts to complete the requested change. However, for 1 in 5 applications – more than 3,500 applications every day – some of the information we need is missing, incomplete or wrongly drawn.
In these instances, a caseworker will assess the matter. If it is deemed necessary, we will send out a request for information (requisition).
Requisitions cause extensive delays to our average speed of service times. Most simple applications to update the register – which account for more than 80% of applications we receive – are completed in 5 weeks. This increases to 7 weeks for those with requisition points.
Most complex updates take just under 9 months to complete. It’s worth quickly noting that we look at complex applications as we receive them to ensure we have all the relevant information and that they can be processed by the right expert caseworker as soon as the application is ready. Those complex updates with requisitions take more than 10½ months. We want to work with our customers to reduce the impact of requisitions.
Reasons for requisitions
We know that requisitions are raised for a number of reasons, some within the control of the applicant and some that are dependent on consent or information from a third party. Third-party consent issues do come up quite often and we know, from experience, that the matter will resolve in due course with no action required from the applicant.
This was one of the reasons we made the recent change to the way we send reminders about unresolved requisitions, giving conveyancers considerably more time to reply to requisitions. With more time to resolve outstanding requisition points, the priority of the original application is reserved for longer. It also reduces the significant administrative burden on all involved from extensions being requested or the cancellations of applications. This in turn allows us to focus on reducing any delays. Extensions can be requested; the best way is through the Reply to Requisition tool in the portal as this automatically attaches the request to the case, further reducing any potential delays.
However, nearly half of all requisitions are avoidable. We have produced online guidance and video tutorials on how to avoid the most common errors. Practice Guide 50 also provides tips on avoiding requisitions. On top of this guidance, we are introducing technological solutions to help address the problem.
Digitising the process
In order to provide a simpler and faster service, we have undertaken an extensive programme to digitise key elements of the registration process. This includes the lodging of applications – with our new Digital Registration Service. Part of HM Land Registry’s portal, the new Digital Registration Service checks information as you enter it, before the application is submitted.
The service will also help to calculate the relevant fee rather than the applicant having to look up the fees and calculate it themselves. Furthermore, the service provides prompts and guidance, as well as autocompleting certain fields, throughout the process of compiling an application. Digital Registration Service will be launched for all portal users in the spring and offers a superior experience to many customers who manually submit applications to change the register.
Portal users can already use the new View My Applications dashboard to quickly find all information about HM Land Registry portal applications online, in one place. This includes the ability to see – at a glance – which applications have requisitions that still require a response.
We know we have a role to play in raising requisitions more consistently and with fewer errors. We are exploring every option – new error checking technology through DRS, improved visibility with View My Applications, and a more consistent approach from caseworkers – to reduce the burden of requisitions this year and beyond. We ask conveyancers to continue to check our guidance and the information already in the register, and use the new portal services, when submitting applications.