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  • Mal McCallion

UK Land Registry delays leave homeowners high and dry

Updated: Nov 2, 2023

Ever felt like you're stuck in a never-ending queue?

Welcome to the world of UK homeowners and buyers, who are currently facing almost two-year-long waits for changes to be registered with the Land Registry. This bureaucratic bottleneck is causing a fair share of headaches and, in some cases, leaving people out of pocket.

The Land Registry, originally designed to streamline property transfers, currently holds more than 26 million titles. That's a whopping 88% of the land mass of England and Wales. But, as it turns out, the system is far from efficient.

Rising interest rates and property deals hanging in the balance have made these delays a real problem. Emma Jones, managing director of mortgage brokers When The Bank Says No, shared the plight of a client who purchased their property through the Right to Buy scheme in December 2021 and is still not registered as the owner.

Another client, who tried to add his wife’s name to the mortgage deeds earlier this year, found himself in a financial pickle. A pending application to the Land Registry meant he couldn't secure a new mortgage rate. The result? A costly payment at a variable rate after the Bank of England raised interest rates to 5%.

And it's not just homeowners feeling the pinch. The Property Litigation Association highlighted the issue of properties being sold with hundreds of outstanding Land Registry applications against them. This leaves parties having to spend time and money dealing with issues on properties they sold many months before.

The Land Registry admitted that complex applications, which account for just 2% of their total intake, took longer due to several reasons. They've recruited more than 1,500 caseworkers since 2020 and created specialist teams to target the oldest cases. But, for many homeowners and buyers, the resolution can't come soon enough.

So, next time you're stuck in a queue, spare a thought for those caught in the Land Registry limbo. It's a waiting game that's proving costly and frustrating for many.

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