To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what assessment his Department has made of (a) the average time taken by HM Land Registry to decide on an application and (b) trends in that time so taken in the last three years.
27 July 2021
HM Land Registry (HMLR) processed over 70,000 requests to search or change the Land Register every day in 2020/21.
Searches constitute approximately 80% of requests. Over 90% of these are delivered instantly via digital services, with almost all of the remainder delivered within three days.
Applications to change the Register make up the other 20% of requests and vary widely in type and complexity. Over the last quarter, on average, across all applications, changes took less than 5 weeks to be processed. Over a third are completed within a week. However, the most complex applications (around 1.5% of cases) took around 26 weeks on average.
Precise comparisons with three years ago are not straightforward due to differences in processes for customers and categorisation of case type. Overall, average processing times are trending higher than the last three years, partly due to COVID-19 restrictions, and partly because HMLR has chosen to rebalance its resources to prevent waiting times for complex applications increasing further. Whilst this has increased the overall average waiting time for all applications to change the Register, HMLR believes that this is the right balance to ensure it is serving all its customer needs.
Because applications to change the Register occur after the transaction is completed, the time taken to process them should not impact a property sale. However, if this is not the case, customers can ask for their application to be fast tracked and processed within 10 working days for no extra charge. HMLR reported in its 2020/21 Annual Report and Accounts that it is processing nearly four times as many requests to fast track applications for its customers as it did prior to the pandemic, reflecting the unique circumstances facing the organisation and the property market overall.
HM Land Registry is making significant investment in long-term transformation to significantly improve customer waiting times in the future through greater digitisation and automation, and building more expert land registration capacity.