WFH Land Registry staff accused of holding up house sales

WFH Land Registry staff accused of holding up house sales because of delays in updating official records

  • A property can be sold only by the owner recorded on Land Registry title deed
  • Solicitors are warned it could take more than a year to swap the title deeds
  • But the Government department denies any change in productivity levels because of home working

Land Registry staff working from home have been accused of holding up house sales because of delays in updating official records.

Solicitors say they have been warned it is sometimes taking more than a year to swap the title deeds on a property after it has been bought.

This hits people who buy and then quickly need to move again – for example, because of a change in family circumstances.

Developers who sell houses after renovating them and homebuilding firms working on ‘part-exchange’ deals are also affected. This is because a property can be sold only by the owner recorded on the title deed held by the Land Registry.

Land Registry staff working from home have been accused of holding up house sales because of delays in updating official records

The Government department has denied any change in productivity levels because of home working.

But David Garofalo, director of Cooper Wallace estate agents in Bedfordshire, said: ‘I had a family buy a new-build in early 2021. Their circumstances changed and they now need to move, so I put it up for sale for them. But they have discovered it is still not registered in their name. So they cannot sell it. It’s well over a year.’

He added: ‘We were told more Land Registry staff working from home was to blame. Of course Covid is to blame – as it is the excuse for everything. But that has to stop now – Covid started in early 2020. We are out of lockdowns now and the world is back to normal.’

A Land Registry spokesman said: ‘We are seeing no differences in productivity between groups working efficiently from home, efficiently from the office, or an equal mix of the two.’

A Land Registry spokesman added: ‘If an application is urgent, for example if someone is planning to sell their home or remortgage, our free expedite service is available for customers to apply to ‘fast track’ their application. We process over 1,000 each day, with 95 per cent completed within 10 working days.’

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