The Government has launched a consultation into the privatisation of the Land Registry. This will be open until 26th of May and is expected to result in a registry which is partly or wholly owned by the private sector. The Government suggests that this will provide public value for money as well as attract investment to the Registry, bringing it into the digital age.
There are two models proposed for reform, both of which would involve the bulk of Land Registry operations being transferred to a new private body. Under the first scheme provision of key services would be guaranteed by contract with the Government, whereas the second would create an independent regulatory body to oversee price and quality.
Under both schemes the ownership of the registers themselves would stay under public control. Existing customer protections would be preserved and an independent complaints body would be created to safeguard the quality of services provided.
Supporters of reform say that private ownership would modernise the body and incentivise the new owners to make the registry more user friendly, digital and accessible. However some commentators fear that privatisation could undermine the impartiality of the process and have questioned how potential owners may seek to monetise the data on the registry.
What can be agreed on is the importance of this change to organisations dealing in property. The Land Registry is an important source of information on land rights, referred to in most property transfers, and registration is now essential for certain property transfers. Therefore, a cost effective, reliable service is of utmost importance to real estate professionals.