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HM Land Registry (HMLR) receive millions of applications per month. Following the pandemic, there has been a backlog of applications and waiting times have increased. So, what is HMLR doing to improve its processing times and reduce the current wait on applications?

HMLR Processing Times

Like many other businesses and departments, HMLR’s workforce had to begin working from home during the pandemic. Its processes suffered as a result, creating a backlog of applications to be registered, which has led to processing times becoming longer.

HMLR is working hard to reduce its timescales and has a number of approaches in place that will see waiting times improve.

  1. Recruitment: Since 2017, 1,000 caseworkers have been recruited. As per HMLR’s business plan for 2021-2024, it aims to recruit yet more caseworkers and offer additional support to current caseworkers, who will use their enhanced knowledge to provide further support for the more complex cases.
  2. Automation: At present, 29% of all HMLRs applications to change the register are automated. HMLR wants to increase this figure to 70% within the next three years, which will inevitably speed up the process in the long term.
  3. E-AP1 process: Short-term approaches are also being explored. HMLR has two teams that are focussing on the older, most complex cases with an aim to reduce processing times. This, coupled with the new E-AP1 process that HMLR introduced last year, will ensure we see continued progress with processing times.
  4. HMLR guidance: As of January 2023, HMLR receive approximately 2.6 million applications per month, which includes the following:
  • Information service requests (approx. 2.3 million per month)
  • Register updates (approx. 340,000 per month)
  • Register creates (approx. 34,000 per month)

HMLR published guidance at the beginning of January 2023, which outlined processing times for each category named above, evidencing that its previous timescales have been improved.

Information Service Requests

These include:

  • Official Searches of Whole
  • Official Searches of Part
  • Office Copies
  • Searches of the Index Map

Statistics (January 2023):

  • 2% completed in 1 day
  • 7% completed in 2 days
  • 3% completed in 3 days
  • 3% completed in 4+ days

Register Updates

These include:

  • Registering property transfers
  • Updating charges against a property
  • Changing names on a property
  • Registering a standard form restriction

Statistics (January 2023):

  • 6% completed in 1 day
  • 2% completed in 1 week
  • 6% completed in 1 month
  • 6% completed in 1+ months

 Register Creates

These include:

  • Multi-title applications
  • First registrations
  • Transfers of part
  • Depositionary first leases

Statistics (January 2023):

  • 7% completed in 1 month
  • 5% completed 6 months
  • 4% completed in 12 months
  • 4% completed in 1+ years

Managing clients’ expectations

It is important to be able to manage your clients’ expectations, especially in relation to Land Registry’s delayed timescales since the pandemic. While updating your client’s legal title is important, the planning is in most cases already in place once the relevant documentation has been executed correctly.

For example: if an order has been placed with CTT Group for lifetime planning, such as a Family Probate Preservation Plus Trust, once the trust has been executed, the equity of the property benefits from the protection of the trust. This is something that you can outline to your clients from the outset. Further to this, once the HMLR transactional documentation has been executed, such as a TR1 Form, the legal title has also been transferred and therefore, the title is subject to change accordingly.

It is clear to see that HMLR is working hard to implement new processes to ensure processing times are reduced. However, it is equally important to notify your clients about current HMLR timescales and for you to keep up to date with any changes to these processing times.

For more information about CTT Group’s conveyancing process, sign up to our Will Writer to Estate Planner Course here.