Land Registry output ‘higher than before the pandemic’

A conveyancing firm has told the Gazette it is struggling to manage client expectations due to Land Registry delays – as the agency claims that its output is higher now than before the pandemic.

One frustrated conveyancer told the Gazette: ‘One of the most challenging aspects of the delays at Land Registry is the inconsistency between the estimated timeframes that they provide, and the actual length of time it takes to receive a reply or completed application.’ On a recent query, the firm was told a reply would be received within five working days at the latest. It arrived four weeks later.

The Gazette learned this week that registry analysis of hybrid working shows that productivity has improved over recent months regardless of where staff have been working. There were no differences between staff working predominantly from home, the office or an equal mix of the two.

On service speeds during Covid, the registry has been delivering more than 100,000 search results every day. However, applications to change the register or create a new entry take more time as they require manual intervention.

Delays are also blamed on shifting activity in the property market. Last year Land Registry dealt with 600,000 more applications than the same period in 2019, which is likely to be the result of homebuyers taking advantage of a stamp duty holiday in England.

Meanwhile the error rate in applications remains high, with one in five requiring a requisition (request for further information) to be raised. The department expects to cut delays when digital applications become mandatory in November.

A spokesperson told the Gazette: ‘Throughout the pandemic, HM Land Registry has continued to deliver all of its services, prioritising time critical services that are essential for property transactions to continue uninterrupted – as they have continued to do.

‘Our plans will see us increasing the use of our offices in line with government guidance, building on the hybrid working approach we had adopted from the start of the pandemic. Targeted recruitment and training and introducing new digital services will improve the overall speed and experience for our customers.

‘Both customer demand and HMLR’s overall output is higher now than it was before the pandemic. Although usually not required during a property transaction, urgent changes to the register are fast-tracked on request and nearly all are completed within 10 working days, for no extra charge.’

A five-year business plan outlining how services will be improved will be published by the summer.

Article from The Law Society Gazette

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