As you may have heard, the Land Registry are incredibly slow at the moment.
So I asked what our conveyancing team here at Bonallack & Bishop, are currently experiencing. And the bad news is that they are seeing real delays –
- Routine purchases are taking 3 – 6 months
- Purchases of part are taking 8 – 12 months
- First registrations are taking 12 – 15 months
And as a result, our conveyancing solicitors have numerous clients who have been frustrated by the snail like progress that seems to be plague so many registrations.
And following a series of posts I made in various online property investor forums, the record for the slowest registration so far that I’ve come across is a remarkable 22 months!
The Land Registry’s own figures don’t make for good reading either. For example, here is a graph taken from their own website dated June 2023. Despite boasting of how many extra staff they’ve taken on, and how they are processing 34,000 registrations every month, these statistics referring to more complex applications (including 1st registrations, title splits and new leases) show that a staggering 59.7% of cases take over 12 months.
Will delay in registration cause me a problem?
The 1st thing to understand is what does registration actually mean? It’s a record of the transaction, not the transaction itself. So, as the Land Registry state:
“The time taken to complete an application should not affect a property sale because it usually takes place after a transaction. The applicant’s legal interest in the property is protected the moment we receive the application, not when it is completed.”
As a result, delayed registration for some people is not an issue. For others, including many property investors, it can cause real problems.
Problems can be caused, for example, with subsequent sales especially where there is a mortgage affecting the property. It’s possible to include a contractual provision for an onward sale to deal with the registration – but that is not entirely satisfactory.
And it can also be a major problem if you’re looking to remortgage in the short term.
I’ve got a problem with potentially delayed registration – what can I do?
There’s only 1 real way of speeding up the process – as you might be aware, your solicitor can apply for what is known as an “expedited application”. But there has to be a very good reason for them to do this. Other than that nothing else can be done. So be warned. Very frustrating.
And given the delays in registration, the Land Registry estimate they are currently processing around 1,000 fast-tracked applications every day.
Proving why your application is urgent
To qualify for an expedited application, you will need to show to the Land Registry “why your application is urgent”.
And examples given by the Land Registry of the kind of thing that qualifies for this kind of fast track service are situations that will;
- cause problems not related to a land transaction
- put a property sale or any kind of property transaction at risk, for example, a refinancing deal or development
The Land Registry state in particular that you might want to consider an expedited application if you are “about to either remortgage or sell their property within 18 months of having moved in “.
You will also need to provide clear evidence of the need for fast track. And again the Land Registry helpfully give examples:
- a copy of the sale or purchase contract or a mortgage offer letter confirming the offer’s expiry date
- a clear explanation in cases of problems or hardship which should link to the need for the registration to be completed
Could my application to expedite be delayed?
Again, the answer is sadly, yes. On that subject here’s a quote from the Land Registry “not all applications can be expedited if there are any outstanding applications or requests for information (requisitions) that need to be completed first. “
So if you or your conveyancer are looking to expedite, do your best to make sure that all the information the Land Registry might possibly need is provided on day one – or risk delay. And good luck!