Land Registry set to be privatised?


The government has recently announced its intention to privatise the Land Registry. 

The Land Registry is the government body responsible for guaranteeing the title to registered land across England and Wales, and officials have stated its sale will provide a welcome £1 billion windfall for the treasury and help to reduce national debt. 

The government have stated their belief that in private hands the Land Registry will be able to secure investment and drive growth, ultimately providing an improved service for its users. If the Land Registry were to be sold this would see the new owners being responsible for amending the register after every transaction. 

However, the government would retain ownership of the Land Register itself and the register would remain the only title to land recognised by UK law.

It is thought that the government would continue to provide a state-backed guarantee to reimburse losses incurred as a result of an error in the register, but this has led to criticism from the Shadow Cabinet, who have stated that the government are privatising the profits of the Land Registry whilst retaining the risk.

Andy Ward, a Solicitor in FBC Manby Bowdler's Commercial Property Team admits there may be further concerns: "Questions will continue to be raised about the aims of any new owner." 

"Would fees increase? Would profitable Land Registry operations be favoured so the new owner gets a faster return on investment? What would be the impact on the lack of completion? Will public and professional confidence in the institution be diminished?

"All these questions will have to be answered if and when the Land Registry is privatised. 

"Whatever the outcome, any decision involving an institution which oversees £4 trillion of property ownership, over 24 million titles of land in England and Wales and employs over 4,500 people in 13 offices throughout England and Wales needs to be taken with care and carefully managed".

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