As of last year, HM Land Registry (HMLR) has been committed to digitising its services as part of a five-year business strategy. The aim is to make services quicker, easier and more cost effective. By 2022, HMLR hopes to digitise and automate 95% of daily transactions. It really is a digital overhaul meaning that it is estimated all plans will not be complete until 2030. So, what exactly are the plans?
The problem that exists with land records at the moment is that there is no centralised register, which means there is discrepancy amongst local authorities. A centralised digital register is set to be launched later this year where it is confirmed that 26 local authorities will move their Local Land Charges records to. The move is designed to remove regional variations in relation to speed, format and costs.
At the moment, each local authority holds records in different formats, which means the pricing can vary greatly as well as how long it takes to receive information. Having the records centralised will make it easier on everyone and will benefit up to 125,000 homebuyers in 2018-2019. Online search results will be made available instantly in a range of formats according to the customer’s needs and preferences. Nowadays, people expect to be able to access most things online so why not this? The Local Land Charges service will do just that.
It fits in with the HMLR’s goals for speed, simplicity and an open approach when it comes to data. Conveyancing needs to be simpler, faster and cheaper and the only way this can be achieved in the eyes of the HMLR is by looking forward to a digital future. Even when we consider the sheer amount of data that the HMLR holds, it makes sense as to why they are looking to digitise; they safeguard land and property worth in excess of £4 trillion. The centralised records will hold a definitive list of property ownership in England and Wales, meaning buying and selling will hopefully be more efficient.
The open approach to data complements the government’s commitment to data transparency, which has been seen in recent years. The whole point is to maximise the ways in which data can be used so that others can benefit. As well as promising to go completely digital in the next ten years or so, the HMLR are also looking to support conveyancers through customer training and education programmes. They will also invest in developing the skills of the people in their organisation so that they become experts in their field with the new digitisation.
It’s unclear just how far digitisation will benefit customers but it is perhaps one step forward in ensuring a conveyancing world that is more financially reasonable and pragmatic.