Commercial Update 90: HMLR Updates on How Long You May Have to Wait for your Registration

You may all be aware of the ‘Registration gap’, that is the gap between the date of actual completion and the handover of keys and the date at which the transfer is registered at H M Land Registry (HMLR). We have had timelines set for this by the government last updated in November 2022, but HMLR have recently given a 2023 service update on their processing times. This shows that:

  • HMLR receives 2.6M applications per month;
  • Of these, 2.3M are ‘information service requests’ (which include searches of whole or part, official copies and searches of the index map), 340K  ‘register updates’ and 34K ‘register creates’;
  • 92.4% of the ‘information service requests’ applications are responded to within 1 day, as some of the Land Registry service is mostly automated;
  • HMLR are keen to assure us that ‘Legal ownership rights are secured from the moment the application is received, not at point at which it is processed and completed. Every application we receive protects the transaction it is registering from the day we receive it. So, if there is no urgency, please wait for us to contact you.’;
  • The 340K ‘register updates’ are changes to existing registered titles and include registering property transfers or updating mortgages. Around 66.4% of these applications are completed in 1 month but just over 30% of applications are taking over this (and some many months more) to complete;
  • The 43K ‘register creates’ are more complex applications such as multi-title applications submitted by developers, major infrastructure projects, registering a property for the first time, dividing existing titles or lodging a new lease. Given the nature of these applications, they understandably take longer to deal with – but over 50% of these applications are taking longer than 12 months to complete at HML;
  • HMLR note that for first registrations, that ‘We complete half of all applications to register land or property for the first time in just over 13 months. We complete almost all in just under 14 months, but a minority might take a few weeks longer depending on the application.’

The release makes it clear that HMLR are recruiting and training staff, noting that at the moment, 29% of applications to change the register are automated with the aim of increasing this to up to 70% in the next 3 years. Unfortunately though, the registration gap can cause problems and if  delays to the Land Registry completing your application is or will cause genuine hardship or put a property sale or transaction at risk, a request can be put in for that HMLR to expedite that application for Free. If approved, HMLR then processes the vast majority of expedited applications within 10 working days.

In the meantime, for all parties in volved in an application, expectation management would seem to be the name of the game for at least the foreseeable future.

Regards to all