Faster home purchases promised as Land Registry begins putting councils’ local search data online

Estate agents, home buyers and sellers will soon only have to wait hours rather than weeks for local searches to be completed when digitisation project is completed.

The Land Registry is to begin digitising the UK’s hundreds of Local Land Charges or ‘local searches’ registers in a bid to speed up the house buying process, a move it claims will help up to 125,000 house purchases over the next two years.

Waiting for local searches to be completed by councils can be both frustratingly slow and, the Land Registry says, varies widely across the UK in speed and cost.

This has created a ‘local search lottery’, it claims. Costs vary from £3 to £76 to complete searches which in some areas can take up to 30 days to complete, unnecessarily holding up thousands of home purchases every year.

Local Land Charges information, which include checks on restrictions such as tree preservation orders, listed status and conservation areas, will soon be available within an updated central online database that solicitors will be able to access as either searchable PDFs or Excel spreadsheets.

“This is a significant step forward in the Government’s ambition to make the house-buying process simpler, faster and cheaper,” says Land Registry Chief Executive Graham Farrant (pictured).

The digitisation project has begun at 26 local authorities and the first to offer the service will include Blackpool, City of London, East Lindsey in Lincolnshire, the Isles of Scilly, Liverpool, Lambeth in London, Norwich, Peterborough, Sefton and St Helen’s on Merseyside and Warwick.

“In today’s world, people expect to be able to access government information online quickly and easily, and for a reasonable fee,” says Graham.

“A national Local Land Charges service will achieve that. HM Land Registry has a track record for modernising land-related systems and is very pleased to be taking on the delivery of the national Local Land Charges digital register.”

Read more about digitisation at the Land Registry.

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