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Property search firms call for urgent action as council backlogs lengthen

The Council of Property Search Organisations says housing secretary must step in to properly resource councils.

Nigel Lewis

property searches

The Council of Property Search Organisations (CoPSO) has written to housing secretary Robert Jenrick asking him to address the growing issue of delays in the provision of searches to homebuyers and their conveyancers.

According to CoPSO data more than 35% of local authorities are taking more than 20 working days to process search requests and for many of these the delays are more than 30 working days, in some cases significantly more.

CoPSO says these delays are now impacting on the progress of transactions and thus the problem ‘requires immediate attention’.

copso property searchesJames Sherwood-Rogers, CoPSO Chairman (pictured) says: ‘With the expiry of the stamp duty holiday at the end of March looming large, the progress of home purchase transactions is becoming increasingly time critical.

“It is vital that the current delays in procuring searches at an increasing number of local authorities is addressed urgently; and we have no doubt that this needs attention at central Government.

“Responsibility for the operation of the housing market, and for local authorities come together with Robert Jenrick and this is the reason we have approached him for his direct intervention.”

CoPSO says that although it understands the difficult conditions that local authorities are facing, many now have substantial backlogs and delayed turnaround times, and that the feedback from the overwhelming majority is that they are under-resourced.

“With the expiry of the stamp duty holiday being primarily responsible for the overactive property market, and the Chancellor stubbornly refusing to extend the deadline, it behoves central Government to provide additional resource to local Government to address the problem of search delays,” says Sherwood-Rogers.

Read more about property searches.

January 5, 2021

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