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Land Registry relaxes rules to help property market continue

Going live today, the changes are designed to allow property ownership transfers to continue, and remove the need for face-to-face verification of identity.

Sheila Manchester

HM Land Registry is making it easier to verify a person’s identity and sign deeds for land registration purposes.

From Monday 4th May, temporary changes will be introduced when verifying a person’s identity and for signing deeds. In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak HM Land Registry is ‘regularly reviewing its practice, policy and procedures, taking guidance from customer feedback’, it claims.

Identity verification

In addition to conveyancers and chartered legal executives, verification can now be undertaken by people who work, or have worked, in certain professions including:

  • retired conveyancers, chartered legal executives, solicitors and barristers
  • bank officials and regulated financial advisers
  • medical doctors, dentists and veterinary surgeons
  • chartered and certified accountants
  • police officers and officers in the UK armed forces
  • teachers and college and university teaching staff
  • Members of Parliament and Welsh Assembly members
  • UK civil servants of senior executive officer (SEO) grade or above
  • Magistrates

The verification can also be done by way of a video call.

Further details on these changes will be available from 4 May in our new practice guide 67A: temporary changes to HM Land Registry’s evidence of identity requirements.

Signing deeds

HM Land Registry will accept deeds that have been signed using the ‘Mercury signing approach’.

This means that, for land registration purposes, a signature page will need to be signed in pen and witnessed in person (not by a video call). The signature will then need to be captured, with a scanner or a camera, to produce a PDF, JPEG or other suitable copy of the signed signature page. Each party sends a single email to their conveyancer to which is attached the final agreed copy of the document and the copy of the signed signature page.

“From what we see – judging by comments from our customers, incoming applications, and the number of expedite requests received – many people still want to and, most importantly, still need to deal with their property. That may be to obtain vital finance to support themselves or their businesses,” says Mike Harlow, Deputy Chief Executive of the Land Registry.

This will be effective from Monday 4th May. Practice guide 8: execution of deeds will be updated with more information. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/execution-of-deeds/practice-guide-8-execution-of-deeds

Read more about Land Registry.

 

 

May 4, 2020

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