All publicly owned land available for new homes to be registered by 2020

The Land Registry aims to have all publicly owned land in England and Wales that could be used for new housing where the need is highest registered by 2020 and the rest by 2030.

The process will make it easier to identify where there may be surplus public land which could be available for housing developments and help the Government reach its target of 300,000 new homes being built a year by the mid 2020s.

Maggie Telfer, deputy director for comprehensive registration at the Land Registry, explained that reaching this target means that house building and house buying will be simpler, faster and cheaper for everyone.

As of April 2018, over 85% of the land mass of England and Wales was registered.

Maggie Telfer said:

‘While our initial focus is on registering all publicly owned land in order to boost housing development, we have longer-term goals. These include registering all remaining land by 2030.’

Teams of people are already dealing with around 400 first registrations, the term we use when properties are registered for the first time, that are received every day. There is also a Public Sector Engagement Team that will be contacting local authorities throughout 2018, helping them to identify if any of their land or properties are yet to be registered and working with them to make the registration process as streamlined as possible.

Registration is the official recording of property ownership. HM Land Registry records property ownership in the Land Register, which is the official ownership list for property in England and Wales. Northern Ireland and Scotland have their own land registries.

Telfer explained that many people assume that all property is registered but there are various reasons why that’s not the case. The main reason for a property not being on the register is that there hasn’t been a transaction, such as a sale or mortgage, on that property since registration became compulsory in its area.

‘So, some people may be living in an unregistered property if they haven’t moved house or re-mortgaged their current one since the 1980s or before,’ she said, adding that the benefits of registration include making it easier to buy and sell property, providing proof of ownership and helping protect property from fraud.

Telfer pointed out:

‘Comprehensive registration makes buying and selling homes easier as all the information necessary for conveyancing will be in one place, the Land Register. This will mean it’s easier to check who owns property and there is more transparency about who owns what.

‘A comprehensive register will make conveyancing simpler, faster and cheaper as all the information necessary for conveyancing will be in the Land Register which is online and available to everyone to see. If land isn’t registered, the conveyancer has to get the deeds from the client or mortgage lender and examine them, all of which costs time and money.
There will always be some little bits of land where the owners are difficult to identify, which is why we’re aiming to achieve comprehensive rather than total registration.’


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