Land Registry

What is the Land Registry?

Her Majesty's Land Registry was created in 1862. Owned by the Crown, it is the single authoritative record which safeguards land and property ownership in England and Wales. The register is publicly available through the Land Registry website and contains over 24 million titles covering more than 84 per cent of the land mass.

To maintain accuracy it is a statutory requirement that the Land Register is updated when there is a change of ownership in land or other property rights. Therefore, anyone buying or selling land/property—or taking out a mortgage—must apply to the Land Registry to register:

  • any unregistered land or property
  • a new owner of registered land or property
  • an interest affecting registered land or property, e.g. a mortgage, lease or right of way

Why is the Land Registry important to estate agents?

Through analysing the latest transaction data, estate agents have access to a reliable source of accurate information about their local area. They can use it to determine average property prices to market size and deliver a better service to their clients by helping them to make the right decision about their property.

Government looks to privatise Land Registry

In the March 2016 Budget, the Government said: 'The process to transfer the Green Investment Bank to private ownership has begun and the Government will shortly consult on the option to move the operations of the Land Registry to the private sector'. Soon after the Government launched a public consultation on moving HM Land Registry operations to the private sector. The consultation set out the Government’s view that privatisation would deliver a revenue that could support the Land Registry to run more efficiently and effectively.

NAEA Propertymark opposes Government's view

We strongly argued that the Land Registry plays an important role in the UK’s property market and do not want to see unnecessary changes jeopardise the service to home buyers and secure lending. The public consultation closed on 26 May 2016.

Our response

Mark Hayward

Mark Hayward
NAEA Propertymark Chief Executive

Quote mark

'The Government’s decision to sell the Land Registry risks reversing its good work on transparency and we call on the new minister to work with the new Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Department to think again on this proposal'.

Parliament concerned

On 3 June 2016, a letter written by David Lammy MP and co-signed by 65 Members of Parliament was sent to the Business Secretary Sajid Javid expressing their opposition to the Government’s plans. In addition, an Early Day Motion was tabled by MPs opposing the privatisation of the Land Registry and MPs also took part in a debate in the House of Commons.

During the debate co-founder of Hunters Estate Agents and Conservative MP Kevin Hollinrake made an extremely important point: 'The Government have introduced new initiatives on beneficial ownership, including consideration of a public register to make sure that foreign companies disclose the true ownership of UK property. That is revolutionary in that it is trying to tackle money laundering, corruption, crime and tax evasion. Those are all reasons why it is better for the Land Registry to be in the public sector than the private sector.'

Land Registry remains in the public sector

At the Autumn Statement 2016, the Government announced that the Land Registry will remain in the public sector: 'Following consultation, the Government has decided that HM Land Registry should focus on becoming a more digital data-driven registration business, and to do this will remain in the public sector. Modernisation will maximise the value of HM Land Registry to the economy, and should be completed without a need for significant exchequer investment.'

Autumn Statement 2016

Digitalisation and looking to the future

In February 2017, the Government’s Housing White Paper committed HM Land Registry to becoming the world’s leading land registry for speed, simplicity and an open approach to data. Their aim is to achieve comprehensive registration of land in England and Wales by 2030.

Also in February, the Land Registry opened a consultation on proposals to modernise its service, give customers using the service more options and bring the rules into alignment with Land Registry’s digital strategy.

In January 2018, the Government released its response to the consultation and confirmed their intention to proceed with the amendments to the Land Registration Rules 2003. More info...

Our response