Controversial proposals put forward by the Government to privatise the Land Registry have been put on hold. A consultation process on the privatisation proposals ended in May and now the proposals appear to be on hold while ministers consider the various options.
The Land Registry is the principal register of the ownership of land in England and Wales and plays an essential role in the property market, underpinning property ownership worth over £4 trillion across England and Wales (including over £1 trillion of mortgages). The Land Registry also provides a state-backed guarantee to property title and the information on the register, meaning that anyone who suffers loss due to an error or omission in the property register, or because the register needs to be corrected, will normally be compensated.
The proposals to sell the Land Registry were widely criticised, with an online petition gaining thousands of signatories. Campaigners argue the proposals will lead to a lack of transparency and that a private service might not have to answer freedom of information requests - making private what is currently publically available data. Most property practitioners were also concerned that the proposals would lead to higher fees as it is a statutory requirement that when there is a change in ownership of land or other property rights and a transaction occurs, the Land Register must be updated at the cost of a registration fee. Many agree that It is hard to see how the moderate fees currently charged could be maintained with a third party running aspects of the Land Registry and implementing measures to modernise the service.
The latest news that the proposals are on hold will please many campaigners, but the Public and Commercial Services union, which represents Land Registry employees, said that "it did not believe this was the end of the issue, and it would be continuing to monitor the situation".
Controversial plans to sell off the Land Registry have been put on hold, while the ministers review responses to the government’s consultation