HM Land Registry

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HM Land Registry
Welsh: Cofrestrfa Dir Ei Mawrhydi
HM Land Registry.png
Agency overview
Formed1861 (1861)
Type non-ministerial government department
Jurisdiction England and Wales
Employees4,486 [1]
Agency executive
  • Simon Hayes [2] , Chief Land Registrar and Chief Executive
Website www.gov.uk/government/organisations/land-registry

Her Majesty's Land Registry is a non-ministerial department of the Government of the United Kingdom, created in 1862 to register the ownership of land and property in England and Wales. [3] It reports to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Contents

The equivalent office in Scotland is the Registers of Scotland. Land and Property Services maintain records for Northern Ireland.

Purpose

Trafalgar House, Bedford Park, Croydon, Greater London; HM Land Registry Head Office and Croydon Local Office Croydon-wiki.jpg
Trafalgar House, Bedford Park, Croydon, Greater London; HM Land Registry Head Office and Croydon Local Office

HM Land Registry registers the ownership of property. It is one of the largest property databases in Europe. At the peak of the property boom in 2007, £1 million worth of property was processed every minute in England and Wales. [4]

Like land registration organisations in other countries, HM Land Registry guarantees title to registered estates and interests in land. It records the ownership rights of freehold properties, and leasehold properties where the lease has been granted for a term exceeding seven years.

The definition of land can include the buildings situated upon the land, particularly where parts of buildings at different levels (such as flats) are in different ownership. It is also possible to register the ownership of the mines and minerals which lie within the ground, as well as airspace above property where this is in separate ownership.

Until April 2020, HM Land Registry received no government funding, being required to ensure that its income covers expenditure, and finances itself from registration and search fees. As of April 2020, HM Land Registry receives a budget from HM Treasury which is offset by the fees the Land Registry charges. This change was the result of HM Land Registry's trading fund being revoked. [5] It provides online access to its database of titles (ownership and charges or interests by other parties) and most plans (maps). People need to pay a fee to access some information.

Property owners whose property is not registered can make voluntary applications for registration. As of March 2016, there are 24.5 million registered titles representing 88% [6] of the land mass of England and Wales. Registration of land under the Land Registration Act 2002 affords property owners some protection against squatters as well as avoiding the need to produce old documents each time a property changes hands.

Benefits of land registration

According to HM Land Registry: [7]

Registration establishes proof of ownership and produces an easy-to-read document reflecting the contents of all the paper title deeds. This simplifies conveyancing, making transactions easier and potentially less costly for all involved.

All title information is kept on HM Land Registry's database, reducing the need to store old and often unclear deeds. The register can be viewed quickly and securely online.

There is no better way to safeguard ownership of land and property than by registering your title with us. State-backed registration gives you greater security of title, providing you with better protection against claims of adverse possession

Registering a title provides a "Title Plan" which is normally not definitive, but which identifies the land within the title on the Ordnance Survey map. It is important that the original title deeds are retained as they will provide a starting point if ever it is necessary to identify the precise position of the boundaries.[ citation needed ]

In addition to being the government body that registers the ownership of land and property in England and Wales, HM Land Registry is also a useful tool for property investors who use the online price calculator to query the latest monthly residential property prices. The government is also using the land registry data to assess property values for tax purposes. [8]

Offices

HM Land Registry has 14 offices at: Birkenhead, Coventry, Croydon, Durham, Fylde (Warton), Gloucester, Kingston upon Hull, Leicester, Nottingham, Peterborough, Plymouth, Swansea, Telford and Weymouth.

HM Land Registry's Head Office is based in Croydon. The in-house IT department (Information Systems) and Land Charges Departments are based in Plymouth.

In 2006, as a result of a review of office accommodation, HM Land Registry announced the closure of several offices. This involved merging offices in Birkenhead, Durham, Lytham/Warton, Nottingham and Swansea, and closing of offices in Harrow and York.

A further review of staffing levels and overall office space began in 2009. The economic recession and lower volumes of property sales and mortgages meant that HM Land Registry's basic work in connection with remortgages and house sales reduced to the point where it made a financial loss for the first time in many years. HM Land Registry announced proposals to close five offices at Portsmouth, Tunbridge Wells, Croydon, Stevenage and Peterborough. [9]

As a result of consultation, the plans to close the Croydon and Peterborough offices were not carried out, but the closure of the other three went ahead, although until 2013 a small office remained at Portsmouth as a sub-office of Croydon. [10]

The Head Office moved out of its famous Lincoln's Inn Fields building in March 2011 and is now based in Croydon. The building has been purchased by the London School of Economics for a sum of £37.5 million. [11] During the early part of 2011, staff based in the Plymouth office were relocated to the Information Systems office in Seaton Court.

Structure

Each local office has an Area Manager (sometimes shared between offices), a Local Land Registrar (also sometimes shared between offices) who is the senior lawyer, an Operations Manager, and an Integrity Manager. Each office also has staff responsible for processing applications lodged by members of the legal profession and the public.

Traditionally customers send applications to the office that deals with applications for the geographical area where the property is located, but since 2009 many customers now deal with dedicated customer teams, who deal with all their applications from certain customers regardless of where the property is located. [12] From 6 January 2014, all paper applications lodged by members of the public have been processed at the Citizen Centre at Land Registry Wales Office. [13]

The organisation is led by the Chief Land Registrar and Chief Executive (both one role). The Chief Land Registrar is assisted by the HM Land Registry Board and Executive Board. The HM Land Registry Board sets the overall strategy for the department. The Executive Board delivers the annual business plan and is responsible for day-to-day management. [14]

Since December 1990, the Land Register has been open to the public. For a fee, anyone can inspect the Register, find out the name and address of the current owner of any registered property or obtain a copy of any registered title. This can also be done online. [15]

HM Land Registry was awarded the former Charter Mark five times, and 97% of its customers rate their service as good, very good or excellent. [16]

HM Land Registry has an Independent Complaints Reviewer.

Adjudicator to the Land Registry

Disputed applications to Land Registry are determined by the Adjudicator to HM Land Registry, an independent office created by the Land Registration Act 2002. Under previous legislation this function had been the responsibility of the Chief Land Registrar. From July 2013, the functions of the Adjudicator have been transferred to the Land Registration division of the Property Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal.

History

Former Land Registry Head Office, 32 Lincoln's Inn Fields (1913-2011) HM Land Registry entrance.jpg
Former Land Registry Head Office, 32 Lincoln's Inn Fields (1913–2011)

In 1857 the Royal Commission on Registration of Title proposed a system of registration administered by a central registry in London with district offices. The Land Registry Act 1862 was introduced by the then Lord Chancellor, Richard Bethell, 1st Baron Westbury. The Act provided for the registration of freehold and long leasehold estates in land. The system of registration adopted had some differences to that piloted in South Australia by that colony's then Premier Sir Robert Torrens, although both were founded on the 1857 report.

Brent Spencer Follett, the first Chief Land Registrar, opened the Land Registry's first offices, at 34 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London, on 15 October 1862. Mr Follett had a staff of just six people and was paid £2,500 a year, at a time when the average labourer's wage was £40. [17]

At first, registration was not compulsory, and once property was registered there was no compulsion to register any subsequent transactions. Thus it was possible for the person registered as the owner of a property to cease to be the owner while remaining on the register. Serious flaws in the 1862 Act led to the Land Transfer Act 1875, which forms the basis of the system used today. However, the LTA did not make registration compulsory.

A report by Sir Charles Brickdale on the system of land registration used in Germany proved influential. In 1897 the then Lord Chancellor, Hardinge Giffard, 1st Earl of Halsbury introduced the Land Transfer Act 1897, which brought an element of compulsion into the registration system. To satisfy the demands of the legal profession, the option of a county veto was offered.

London County Council was attracted to the idea of compulsory registration and voted in favour of it. It was introduced in stages between 1899 and 1902 and this led to the expansion of HM Land Registry. Also at this time, the first female staff were employed and typewriters were introduced. A proposal to extend compulsory registration to Northamptonshire in 1902 was lost in committee.

From 1905 to 1913 new HM Land Registry headquarters were built in Lincoln's Inn Fields.

Two significant pieces of land legislation were enacted in 1925: the Law of Property Act and the Land Registration Act. Government-initiated extensions to compulsory registration were suspended for ten years, but Eastbourne (1926) and Hastings (1929) voluntarily became areas of compulsory registration. After the ten years were up, compulsory registration was extended to Middlesex (1937) and the County Borough of Croydon (1939). Plans to extend it to Surrey in 1940 were abandoned due to the Second World War. In 1925 the government forecast that the whole of England and Wales would be subject to compulsory registration by 1955, but the process took much longer.

In 1940, after damage sustained in the 193rd air raid on Central London, HM Land Registry was evacuated to the Marsham Court Hotel in Bournemouth so that it could carry on its normal business. In 1950, eighty-eight years after its creation, HM Land Registry registered its one millionth title.

The growth in property ownership after the war years meant that the potential number of properties to be registered increased dramatically. This, in turn, slowed down the rate of land registration. To deal with the increasing workload, an office was opened in Tunbridge Wells in 1955 and a further office at Lytham St. Annes in 1957. In 1963, 101 years after the registry started, it registered its two millionth title.

Theodore Ruoff, who was appointed Chief Land Registrar in 1963, laid down the three fundamental principles of Land Registration:

New offices were opened in Gloucester and Stevenage (1964), Durham and Harrow (1965), Plymouth (1966), Croydon and Swansea (1967), Birkenhead and Weymouth (1977), Peterborough (1978), Telford (1986), Coventry and Hull (1987), Leicester (1988), Portsmouth (1989), York (1991) and Lancashire (2000).

Land registers at this time[ when? ] were not public records, and processing them required laborious typing and the completion of plans by hand using paintbrushes and ink on linen. Copies of everything produced had to be made by hand. HM Land Registry retained the originals, and the copies were sewn, using needle and thread, into large certificates. The certificates were produced as indisputable evidence of the ownership of the land. Such was the importance of the certificates that tampering with them was a criminal offence.

In 1986 the Plymouth Office became the first HM Land Registry office to produce registers electronically. Although the certificates still bore the same importance, computerisation dramatically increased the efficiency of the Land Register at a time when HM Land Registry was keen to bring the whole of England and Wales under compulsory registration.

In 1990 the provision of compulsory registration was brought to the whole of England and Wales, the ten millionth title was registered, and for the first time, the Land Register was opened to public inspection.

Although compulsory registration had now spread to the whole of its jurisdiction, compulsion only occurred when a property was sold. This was a barrier to the registration of the whole of England and Wales, and in 1998 new triggers for registration were introduced, dramatically increasing the rate of registration of land. These triggers included gifts of land, assent of land on death and raising monies by mortgages on the land.

The Land Registration Act 2002 leaves the system substantially in place, but enables the future compulsory introduction of electronic conveyancing, using electronic signatures to transfer and register property. As a result of that act, Land and Charge Certificates are no longer issued.

The new home of the Information Systems department, a state-of-the-art office with 500 staff, was opened in 2005 in Plymouth's International Business Park.

Chief Land Registrars

Privatisation plans

On 23 January 2014, the Government issued a public consultation on its proposal to create a service delivery company to carry out the day-to-day process of land registration. This might be either a wholly Government-owned company or privately owned, and was to be subject to regulation from the Office of the Chief Land Registrar, which would remain part of Government. [18] This proposal generated considerable controversy in the media and was opposed by Land Registry staff. [19] [20] There was also opposition to the plans from legal professionals and other users of Land Registry services. [21] [22] In July 2014, the Government announced that, having considered the results of the consultation, whilst it continued to consider that there were considerable benefits to a service delivery company, it felt that further consideration was necessary and therefore would not be proceeding with any changes. [23]

In November 2015, it was reported that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was reconsidering privatising the agency [24] and an article in PoliticsHome noted that all potential bidders were linked to tax havens. [25]

The privatization plans have faced fierce opposition from the industry in 2016. The Conveyancing Association has argued that a ‘reversal of the recent halving of fees’ could in fact double Land Registry's income ‘yet is a relatively small burden for the homebuyer in amongst the other costs and charges involved in the process’ of privatisation’. [26] The Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) has claimed that the privatisation would give a private organisation monopoly to commercially valuable data and provide little inclination to improve anyone's access to it. [27] Currently the Land Registry makes some datasets available for purchase by private companies and other organisations, such as Search Providers. [28] Private search companies and ordering platforms have been integrating Land Registry's data to improve search ordering for conveyancers. Data from Land Registry's National Spatial Dataset, [29] for example, has been used to display boundary maps on-screen using a live data link to help conveyancers validate property locations.

The government made further proposals to privatise the Land Registry in a consultation [30] which ran from 24 March to 26 May 2016.

In the 2016 Autumn Statement, Chancellor Philip Hammond put an end to speculation about Land Registry privatisation:

Following consultation the government has decided that HM Land Registry should focus on becoming a more digital data-driven registration business, and to do this will remain in the public sector. Modernisation will maximise the value of HM Land Registry to the economy, and should be completed without a need for significant Exchequer investment.

See also

Bibliography

Related Research Articles

In law, conveyancing is the transfer of legal title of real property from one person to another, or the granting of an encumbrance such as a mortgage or a lien. A typical conveyancing transaction has two major phases: the exchange of contracts and completion.

Lord of the manor

Lord of the manor is a title that, in Anglo-Saxon England, referred to the landholder of a rural estate. The lord enjoyed manorial rights as well as seignory, the right to grant or draw benefit from the remainder. The title continues in modern England and Wales as a legally recognised form of property that can be held independently of its historical rights. It may belong entirely to one person or be a moiety shared with other people.

Torrens title is a land registration and land transfer system, in which a state creates and maintains a register of land holdings, which serves as the conclusive evidence of title of the person recorded on the register as the proprietor (owner), and of all other interests recorded on the register.

Recorder of deeds

Recorder of deeds or Deeds registry is a government office tasked with maintaining public records and documents, especially records relating to real estate ownership that provide persons other than the owner of a property with real rights over that property.

The General Register Office for England and Wales (GRO) is the section of the United Kingdom HM Passport Office responsible for the civil registration of births, adoptions, marriages, civil partnerships and deaths in England and Wales and for those same events outside the UK if they involve a UK citizen and qualify to be registered in various miscellaneous registers. With a small number of historic exceptions involving military personnel, it does not deal with records of such events occurring within the land or territorial waters of Scotland, Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland; those entities' registration systems have always been separate from England and Wales.

Civil registration is the system by which a government records the vital events of its citizens and residents. The resulting repository or database has different names in different countries and even in different US states. It can be called a civil registry, civil register, vital records, and other terms, and the office responsible for receiving the registrations can be called a bureau of vital statistics, registry of vital records and statistics, registrar, registry, register, registry office, or population registry. The primary purpose of civil registration is to create a legal document that can be used to establish and protect the rights of individuals. A secondary purpose is to create a data source for the compilation of vital statistics.

A profit, in the law of real property, is a nonpossessory interest in land similar to the better-known easement, which gives the holder the right to take natural resources such as petroleum, minerals, timber, and wild game from the land of another. Indeed, because of the necessity of allowing access to the land so that resources may be gathered, every profit contains an implied easement for the owner of the profit to enter the other party's land for the purpose of collecting the resources permitted by the profit.

Land Registration Act 2002 United Kingdom legislation

The Land Registration Act 2002 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which repealed and replaced previous legislation governing land registration, in particular the Land Registration Act 1925, which governed an earlier, though similar, system. The Act, together with the Land Registration Rules, regulates the role and practice of HM Land Registry.

General Register Office

General Register Office or General Registry Office (GRO) is the name given to the civil registry in the United Kingdom, many other Commonwealth nations and Ireland. The GRO is or was the government agency responsible for the recording of vital records such as births, deaths, and marriages, which may also include adoptions, stillbirths, civil unions, etc., and historically, sometimes included records relating to deeds and other property transactions.

Land registration generally describes systems by which matters concerning ownership, possession, or other rights in land are formally recorded to provide evidence of title, facilitate transactions, and prevent unlawful disposal. The information recorded and the protection provided by land registration varies widely by jurisdiction.

Registers of Scotland

Registers of Scotland (RoS) is the non-ministerial department of the Scottish Government responsible for compiling and maintaining records relating to property and other legal documents. They currently maintain 20 public registers. The official responsible with maintaining the Registers of Scotland is the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland. By ex officio, the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland is also the Deputy Keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland. The Keeper of the Registers of Scotland should not be confused with the Keeper of the Records of Scotland.

A register office or The General Register Office, much more commonly registry office, is a British government office where births, deaths, marriages, civil partnership, stillbirths and adoptions in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are registered. It is the licensed local of civil registry.

A severance can in law mean the act of severing a piece of land from a larger tract of land. The severed parcel of land becomes a separate lot (parcel). Second, it can refer to, in jurisdictions that have the form of co-ownership, the ending of a joint tenancy by act or event other than death. Third, it can be defined in a definitions clause or table in ways including the removal of a party from an agreement, or a permitted ending of the agreement — in an employment contract/negotiations especially common as to severance pay and other terms of severance — or part of the agreement in which case it may be either capable of forming the heart of a new agreement, that is being superseded or instead varied to be non-binding (avoided) as to future conduct and the parties should ensure which meaning is meant in this third range of senses.

The New South Wales Land and Property Information , a division of the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation in the government of New South Wales, was the division responsible for land titles, property information, valuation, surveying, and mapping and spatial information in the Australian state of New South Wales. From 1 July 2017, the operation was transferred to Australian Registry Investments, a private consortium, under a 35-year concession with the NSW government. The LPI was subsequently renamed and replaced by the NSW Land Registry Services on 1 December 2017.

Formalities in English law are required in some kinds of transaction by English contract law and trusts law. In a limited number of cases, agreements and trusts will be unenforceable unless they meet a certain form prescribed by statute. The main kinds of formality that a statute can require are to put the transaction in writing, to make a deed, or to register it at a government registrar.

English land law Law of real property in England and Wales

English land law is the law of real property in England and Wales. Because of its heavy historical and social significance, land is usually seen as the most important part of English property law. Ownership of land has its roots in the feudal system established by William the Conqueror after 1066, and with a gradually diminishing aristocratic presence, now sees a large number of owners playing in an active market for real estate. The modern law's sources derive from the old courts of common law and equity, along with legislation such as the Law of Property Act 1925, the Settled Land Act 1925, the Land Charges Act 1972, the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 and the Land Registration Act 2002. At its core, English land law involves the acquisition, content and priority of rights and obligations among people with interests in land. Having a property right in land, as opposed to a contractual or some other personal right, matters because it creates privileges over other people's claims, particularly if the land is sold on, the possessor goes insolvent, or when claiming various remedies, like specific performance, in court.

In the United Kingdom, a local authority search refers to the provision of specific information about a particular property and the surrounding area for buyers and sellers. This is undertaken as part of the conveyancing process by a solicitor or a licensed conveyancer. If you are borrowing money to finance the purchase it will normally be a condition of the advance that you obtain a local search. If you are not having finance it is your option whether to have a local search or not.

Places of Worship Registration Act 1855 United Kingdom legislation

The Places of Worship Registration Act 1855 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which governs the registration and legal recognition of places of worship. It applies only in England and Wales, and does not cover the Church of England : it is exempt from the Act's requirements. Nor does it affect the Church in Wales, which remains part of the Anglican Communion although it is no longer the Established Church in Wales. Registration is not compulsory, but it gives certain financial advantages and is also required before a place of worship can be registered as a venue for marriages.

Rates are a tax on property in the United Kingdom used to fund local government. Business rates are collected throughout the United Kingdom. Domestic rates are collected in Northern Ireland and were collected in England and Wales before 1990 and in Scotland before 1989.

NSW Land Registry Services is the business name of Australian Registry Investments (ARI), the operator of land titling and registry services in the Australian state of New South Wales. It is responsible for the state's land titles and property information and operates the registry under a 35-year concession with the Government of New South Wales, which started on 1 July 2017.

References

  1. Land Registry Annual Report 2015-2016, figure is as of 31.3.16
  2. "Framework Document 2008". HM Land Registry. Retrieved 25 July 2010.
  3. Collis, Peter (April 2006) Welcome to Land Registry’s 10-year strategic plan. landregistry.gov.uk
  4. "The Land Registry Trading Fund (Revocation) Order 2020". legislation.gov.uk. Retrieved 4 June 2020.
  5. HM Land Registry Annual Report 2015-2016
  6. Foundation, Internet Memory. "[ARCHIVED CONTENT] UK Government Web Archive – The National Archives". webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 9 July 2014. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
  7. "How the best investors are using the land registry to find their next investment property". http://blog.thenello.com/. Archived from the original on 25 August 2015. Retrieved 31 August 2015.External link in |publisher= (help)
  8. Land Registry's Accelerated Transformation Programme – Consultation on office closures. Consultation Document, v1-0 22 October 2009.
  9. Accelerated Transformation Programme Decisions Report 17 March 2010
  10. Press Notice dated 8 October 2010. Retrieved 10 October 2011. Archived 20 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  11. Land Registry Customer Teams webpage. landregistry.gov.uk
  12. Land Registry announcement on Citizen Centre Archived 29 November 2014 at the Wayback Machine . landregistry.gov.uk
  13. Land Registry Management Structure. landregistry.gov.uk
  14. Land Registry Find a Property webpage. landregistry.gov.uk.
  15. Press Release – Customer Satisfaction Success for Land Registry. landregistry.gov.uk.
  16. British Labour Statistics: Historical Abstracts, 1886–1968, quoted in Essex University research. Retrieved 10 October 2011.
  17. Introduction of a Land Registry service delivery company: Government response, p.6
  18. Rajeev Syal (5 May 2014). "Land Registry privatisation plans revealed in leaked document | Politics". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 August 2014.
  19. "BBC News - Land Registry staff stage strike over privatisation plans". Bbc.co.uk. 14 May 2014. Retrieved 27 August 2014.
  20. "Save the Land Registry website home page Retrieved 2014-11-18". Archived from the original on 10 August 2018. Retrieved 9 September 2018.
  21. Law Society press release of 21 March 2014 regarding its response to the consultation Retrieved 2014-11-18 [ permanent dead link ]
  22. Introduction of a Land Registry service delivery company:Government response, p.24
  23. "Land Registry in frame for £1.2bn privatisation". The Telegraph. 17 November 2015. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
  24. "Potential Land registry bidders linked to tax havens -report". Politics Home. 26 May 2016. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  25. "Conveyancing Association announces opposition to Land Registry privatisation" [ permanent dead link ] Conveyancing Association. 16 May 2016
  26. "CMA objects Land Registry privatisation" The Guardian. 23 May 2016
  27. Land Registry public dataset
  28. Land Registry National Spatial dataset [ permanent dead link ]
  29. Consultation - Land Registry: moving operations to the private sector