27 August 2023

The Land Registry has come under scrutiny due to substantial delays in property registrations.

Consequently, homeowners and buyers are experiencing financial strains, with some missing out on favourable mortgage deals or facing challenges in selling their properties.

The most recent data from His Majesty’s Land Registry reveals that some applications, particularly those regarding changes to the register, are taking nearly two years to complete.

This is alarming, considering that the land registration system was intended to streamline property transfers. As of now, over 26 million titles, which account for approximately 88% of England and Wales’s land mass, have been registered.

Rudi Kesic, CEO at Verify 365 Risk & Compliance technology platform, weighed in, stating, “These unprecedented delays underscore the urgent need for improved systems and technology to cater to the ever-evolving demands of the property market.”

Emma Jones, Managing Director of “When The Bank Says No”, highlighted a case where a client’s property purchase from December 2021 was still pending registration. Another client faced complications in securing a new mortgage rate due to a six-month delay in adding his wife’s name to the mortgage deeds.

Similarly, Gary Boakes, owner of Verve Financial, recounted the ordeal of a client who could not transition to a more favourable mortgage rate because their Help to Buy property purchase had not been registered. The client faced a 10-month delay, resulting in financial setbacks.

Latest HMLR data shows first-time land or property registrations sometimes exceed a 15-month waiting period. More complex applications, such as dividing existing titles or registering new leases, can stretch to 22 months.

The Property Litigation Association highlighted the operational challenges, suggesting the Land Registry’s system is stretched thin. It warned of homeowners potentially unable to sell due to unregistered leases and cited instances where properties have multiple pending Land Registry applications, necessitating extensive investigations.

Caroline Nokes, MP for Romsey and Southampton North, has been vocal about the evident issues with the Land Registry. Based on her constituency correspondence, many face substantial delays when seeking information.

The Land Registry acknowledged the challenges but emphasised that they manage over 98% of service requests promptly. They attributed the delays to the complexity of certain applications, which constitute about 2% of their overall volume. Efforts are ongoing, with recruitment of 1,500 caseworkers since 2020 and the formation of teams focusing on long-pending cases.

Meanwhile, Scotland’s land registration is also marred by delays, some dating back to 2017. Former Member of the Scottish parliament, Andy Wightman, believes the delays result from a combination of COVID-19 and systemic issues. Registers of Scotland confirmed that their strategy was impacted by the pandemic but noted they are making steady progress.

Innovative Measures to Address UK Land Registry Delays

The overwhelming delays at the Land Registry have certainly created a pressing concern for homeowners and potential buyers. As the industry grapples to find resolutions, technology and modernised systems emerge as potential solutions.

Rudi added: “The challenges faced by the UK Land Registry aren’t unique in the property world. Many nations grapple with outdated systems and increasing demands. However, the integration of advanced technology solutions can streamline these processes, reducing delays and enhancing efficiency.”

Verify 365 has been at the forefront of implementing tech-driven solutions in various sectors. Rudi believes the Land Registry can benefit significantly from adopting similar technologies. “Imagine a digitised and automated process where applications are sorted, prioritised, and processed using advanced algorithms and machine learning. Not only would this reduce human error, but it would also accelerate the registration process,” Rudi suggests.

Further elaborating on potential solutions, Rudi adds, “A centralised digital platform, accessible by both property professionals and homeowners, could offer real-time updates on application statuses. This level of transparency would reduce uncertainties and frustrations currently experienced by many.”

Moreover, the adoption of blockchain technology could revolutionise land registrations. Rudi adds, “Blockchain can ensure secure, transparent and immutable land registration. Once a property is registered on the blockchain, the data is permanent and verifiable, making fraud near impossible.”

While the path to implementing these solutions requires collaboration, investment and time, the long-term benefits for homeowners, buyers and the overall UK property market are undeniable. As Rudi concludes, “Innovation is the way forward. Embracing technology today can pave the way for a more efficient and secure property market tomorrow.”