Guidance: HM Land Registry: processing times

Land Registry

June 24
12:42 2024

We receive thousands of applications on a daily basis which we process as quickly as possible.

Legal ownership rights are secured from the moment the application is received, not at point at which it is processed and completed. Every application we receive protects the transaction it is registering from the day we receive it. So, if there is no urgency, please wait for us to contact you.

If delays to your application might cause problems or put a property sale or any kind of property transaction at risk, you can request an expedite for free. We have helped over 200,000 applicants this year, prioritised and quickly processed via this free expedite service. We process the vast majority of expedited applications within 10 working days.

All timelines below are correct as of May 2024. The timelines reflect the average experience based on the previous months activity.

We cannot provide a specific date by which individual applications will be processed. For information on our best estimates of future processing times, please see our guidance on the estimated completion date tool within the portal.

We recognise that some of our processing times are not what we want them to be and improving the speed of our services is our top priority. We continue to make every effort to achieve this, including building our capacity through recruitment, developing digital application processes to make land registration quicker and easier, and making strides to increase our underlying productivity. For more details, please read our measures to support customers.

Information service requests

Our Information Services (sometimes known as register queries) cover:

  • official searches of whole
  • official searches of part
  • official copies
  • searches of the index map

Before you can buy or sell any property, it is critical that a conveyancer searches the Land Register for all the information relating to that property. It is essential these searches take place quickly to avoid delays.

It takes 1 to 2 days if we need to handle an application manually. A search of the index map can take 2 to 3 days.

Changes to existing registered titles

Changes to existing titles (sometimes known as register update services) include:

  • registering property transfers
  • updating charges (mortgages) against a property
  • changing names on a property

This covers a range of services that usually take place once a property has been sold, after stamp duty land tax have been paid and the property has exchanged hands. Only then is the register updated with new owners with their relevant mortgage details and other interests. The legal interests of the applicant are protected from the moment HM Land Registry receives the application, regardless of how long it then takes to complete.

Just over 30% of applications to update the register are automated and completed within minutes. These include applications to remove a mortgage or registering a standard form of restriction.

Over half of the remaining applications to update the register, such as changing a name or transferring a property title, take 8 weeks to complete, with most completed?in about 4 months.?We know that in some instances these applications are taking about 9 months?to complete.

More complex changes and new entries

These are our more complex application types, including multi-title applications submitted by developers, or major infrastructure projects. They also include registering property for the first time, dividing existing titles or lodging a new lease.

These applications include more errors and omissions, with between 55% and 65% of applications requiring clarification or further information, which delays the application.

Registering land or property for the first time (sometimes known as first registrations)

We complete half of all applications to register land or property for the first time in about 16 months. We complete almost all in about 17 months, but a minority might take a few weeks longer depending on the application.

Applications to divide existing titles (transfers of part) or register a new lease (dispositionary first lease)

Where preparatory work has been done, we complete half of applications to divide existing titles or register a new lease in about 12 months. Almost all are completed in about 20 months.

Where no preparatory work has been done, half are completed in about 15 months and almost all in about 18 months.

A minority might take a few months longer depending on the application.

The processing times differ depending on whether or not any preparatory work has been done with the developers to simplify the registration process prior to transactions taking place.

Measures to support customers

We have increased our overall caseworker resource by around 1,000 in the last few years, including over 500 in the last 2 years alone to help process additional cases. We believe improvements can only be delivered through a combination of recruitment and training as well as automation. At the moment, 29% of our applications to change the register are automated.

More details can be found in two blogs on our recruitment and automation.

We are also exploring short term approaches. One includes our having created two dedicated teams focused on the oldest complex cases with a specific goal to reduce the processing times for these applications.

We are looking at ways to work with customers to reduce the number of times we chase for clarification or additional information.

Expedite an application (fast-track)

You can ask HM Land Registry to process your application urgently. The expedite process is available for applications where a delay would cause significant issues.

Contact HM Land Registry

You can send us a message or contact us by phone.

Our guides answer many of the most common questions.

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Published 11 January 2023
Last updated 24 June 2024 +show all updates

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