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Land Registry relaxes rules to allow property deals to continue

HM Land Registry is making it easier to verify individuals’ ID from today.

In addition to conveyancers and chartered legal executives, verification can now be undertaken by people who work, or have worked, in a specified group of professions. 

These include retired conveyancers, chartered legal executives, solicitors and barristers; bank officials and regulated financial advisers; medical doctors, dentists and veterinary surgeons; chartered and certified accountants; and police officers and officers in the UK armed forces.

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Other groups allowed include teachers and college and university teaching staff, Westminster MPs and Welsh Assembly members; UK civil servants of senior executive officer grade or above; and magistrates.

The verification can also be done by way of a video call.

The Registry will also accept deeds that have been signed using what it calls the  ‘Mercury signing approach’.

This means that, for land registration purposes, a signature page will need to be signed in pen and witnessed in person - not by a video call. 

The signature will then need to be captured, with a scanner or a camera, to produce a PDF, JPEG or other suitable copy of the signed signature page. 

Each party sends a single email to their conveyancer to which is attached the final agreed copy of the document and the copy of the signed signature page. 

The Law Society has welcomed the change.

“Solicitors continue to work hard on behalf of clients in the face of unprecedented hurdles” says Simon Davis, president of the Law Society of England and Wales. 

“These changes help to improve processes for transactions in a difficult environment – they are both pragmatic and proportionate. Even though they are temporary - and HM Land Registry have made it clear that these changes may be modified or withdrawn at short notice at any moment – the measures are nevertheless welcome and should assist those carrying out transactions from large commercial real estate to home moves.

“There still are significant complications with continuing transactions - caused by banking issues, issues arising from compliance with social distancing guidelines, or the unavailability of removal or other services.

“We have worked with HM Land Registry and others to secure these changes to help the profession find workable alternatives so that transactions can continue – provided it is safe to do so.”

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