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Graham Awards


Four out of five searches ‘now completed within 10 working days’

There’s been a dramatic improvement in the speed of searches being completed and returned by local authorities, the government claims.

Housing minister Heather Wheeler says that last year she wrote to all local authorities saying that extensive search delays were unacceptable to the government, which wanted to speed up the house buying process across a number of fronts. 

She gave them a target of a maximum of 10 working days within which to complete and return search data.


Now she has told a conveyancing conference: “I’m pleased to see that, based on the latest data, more than 80% of local authorities are hitting this target. The quickest can turn searches around in under a day. Now that’s what I call progress.

“I think the chance to live in the house of your dreams shouldn’t depend on which authority it happens to be in.”

But she warns that there are still unacceptable delays, especially where leaseholds are concerned.

“Having a leasehold property in the chain can add at least an extra week, due to difficulties getting information from freeholders and managing agents. As it stands, there aren’t any guidelines around the provision of this information, leaving leaseholders at the mercy of freeholders, who can charge whatever they like and take as long as they like” claims Wheeler.

She says the government is about to set out a recommended timetable and standard fees for providing this information. 

“This will also include a fee to update this information.”

Her comments to the annual conference of the Council for Licensed Conveyancers comes as HM Land Registry is continuing with its Local Land Charges digitisation programme. 

Last year the Registry worked with the councils at Blackpool, City of London, Liverpool and Warwick to switch from manual to digital searches, making the enquiries much faster to handle.

HM Land Registry says that by the end of March - so little over two months from now - a total of 26 councils including the four already on stream will have digital searching facilities.

However, it says the full roll-out of its Local Land Charges register across the entire UK could take up to seven years.

Poll: Do you agree - are searches getting faster in your area?


  • icon

    Conveyancing delays don't come from search turnaround time. They come from:
    1. Inexperienced conveyancers - who simply have no business being involved in conveyancing
    2. Conveyancers who take a standard 2 weeks to send out contract papers
    3. Conveyancers who take a standard 2 weeks to reply to a single letter of enquiries
    4. Conveyancers who lose 3-4 weeks because they overlook the need to produce a leasehold management pack to the buyer's lawyer
    5. Conveyancers who can lose 2-3 weeks as they get their own contract wrong when selling a newly constructed contract by omitting the usual warranty to build in accordance with planning building control and new build warranty
    5. Conveyancers who lose another week as they overlook informing their clients that they should make payments by bank transfer, not cheque

    Instead, seek out #ImpressiveConveyancing

  • James Ferguson

    The last 2 paragraphs about the transfer of the Local Land Charges Register from Local Authorities to HMLR are inaccurate.
    HMLR now has a target of the end of 2019 to complete the transfer of 'up to' 26 local authority registers in Phase 1 of the project. 5 have been completed but there is no scheduled transfer date for any other LA's and HMLR has so far named named only 21 of the up to 26 Local Authorities in Phase 1.


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