How will land registry privatisation affect landlords?
The Government is planning to privatise the Land Registry by 2017, despite major concerns of significant financial and security implications to the property industry in the UK.
Landlord & Tenant
The Land Registry plays a crucial role in registering the ownership of property in England and Wales. It is responsible for ensuring conveyances, transfers, mortgages etc, are properly recorded and are recognised by law.
Albeit state-backed to provide for better security, it is a self-funded operation and receives no government funding, and is required to ensure that its income covers expenditure, and finances itself from registration and search fees.
In 2014, the Government issued a public consultation on its proposal to create a service delivery company to carry out the process of land registration. This public consultation was not widely publicised and it has now closed.
The Government announced that, following the results of the consultation, whilst it continued to believe that there were benefits to a service delivery company, it felt that further consideration was necessary and therefore would not be proceeding with any changes. This is due to the fact that only 5% of respondents to the consultation agreed that privatisation would make the Land Registry more efficient and effective.
In 2015 however, it was reported that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is reconsidering privatising the Land Registry and is planning to sell-off the Land Registry within the next year, despite major concerns by many solicitors on behalf of their clients.
President of the Law Society, Jonathan Smithers:
“Privatisation of the Land Registry would mark a significant change to a vital piece of our nation’s infrastructure. The ability of any owner or company to have certainty about the ownership and status of land is central to the way our economy functions”
PCS General Secretary, Mark Serwotka:
“Allowing a private company to profit from the Land Registry’s legal and statutory duties risks the stability of the housing market and would increase costs to home buyers and small businesses”. He further describes this sell-off as “deeply dangerous”.
There are significant long-term financial and security implications in selling-off the Land Registry, currently one of the largest property databases in Europe. Here are some of the concerns that could affect people involved in the property industry:
Commercial interests are likely change the impartial nature of the Land Registry;
Our national security could potentially be compromised if a foreign company takes ownership of our national property database;
Fees for the service and registration are likely to increase if the private company are profit driven;
Some of our Statutory functions are important for our economy and the vast data the Land Registry holds are vital to all parts of the economy.
The Government will continue to provide a state-backed guarantee despite no longer receiving any profit once the Land Registry has been sold. That is to say, if the private company fails, or decides it’s not a profitable venture, the Government is tied to pick-up the pieces.
Cat Hobbs, weownit.org.uk:
“The Land Registry is a fantastic public service that works for all of us. It makes millions of profit for the public purse and there is no case for selling it off!”
How to get involved to stop the plans for privatisation?
Sign and share the petition https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-privatisation-of-the-land-registry
Get tweeting using #savelandreg and following @savelandreg
Join and share facebook page https://www.facebook.com/savethelandregistry