Guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): impact on HM Land Registry's services

How we are delivering our services during the coronavirus outbreak.

We are operating as close to normal as possible during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Impact on our services

We are prioritising services that allow property transactions to continue. This includes information services and guaranteed queries such as searches of the index map, official copies and official searches. Our Business e-services are fully functional and operating as usual.

Some applications are taking slightly longer than our usual service standards.

There is minimal disruption to:

  • bankruptcy searches 
  • Find a property
  • land charges searches
  • local land charges searches
  • MapSearch
  • official copies of documents
  • official searches of the index map
  • official searches of part
  • official searches of whole
  • Property Alert

There is moderate disruption to discharge updates.

Services which have less impact on the normal operation of the property market are likely to experience more significant disruption. This includes:

  • register create applications (applications that require new entries to be created in the Land Register such as a first registration, new lease or transfer of part)
  • register update applications (applications to update the register of a title that is already registered including a transfer or new mortgage)

If you feel an application is urgent because it is holding up a subsequent transaction, you can request an expedite.

Contacting HM Land Registry

Use our online channels to help us prioritise your queries and deal with them more quickly.

Business e-service customers can:

Solicitors and conveyancers can use our practice guides or send us a message using our contact form.

Citizen customers (non-legal professionals) can access our step by step guides that answer many of the most common questions.

Reduced telephone service

Our phone service is operating at a reduced level and with restricted opening hours (8am to 12 midday). Please only call us if your enquiry is urgent.

Face-to-face appointments

We have temporarily suspended face-to-face appointments. See Identity verification for information on how to get your identity verified for land registration purposes.

Cancellations

All current cancellation dates have been extended until further notice. We will update you when normal service is resumed and at that point, we will send warnings of cancellation again, giving you 4 weeks to reply to our requests for information (requisitions).

Cancellation dates on expedited applications

Where we have expedited an application and there is an application, or applications, in front of it with a request for information (requisition) outstanding, we will consider the cancellation of the application with an outstanding request for information (requisition), giving reasonable notice. This will help us to complete urgent expedited applications.

Expedite an application

We can expedite an application if it’s delaying a transaction or causing hardship.

How citizen customers can request an application to be expedited

If you think your application is urgent, you should ask the conveyancer who submitted it to request an expedite. If you haven’t used a conveyancer, you can use our contact form to request this yourself.

How conveyancers can request an application to be expedited

Conveyancers can request an application to be expedited using Application Enquiry in the HM Land Registry portal. You must attach evidence to show why the application is urgent. We will process the application sooner if we approve the request.

Do not use Reply to requisition to send a request for an expedite.

If you have used Reply to requisition to send a request for an expedite since 23 March, you must resubmit your request through Application Enquiry.

You can continue to use Reply to requisition to give us any other information or attach missing documentation relating to an application.

Find out how to expedite an application.

Accessing PDF downloads

We have temporarily extended the time you have to access your organisation’s PDFs on the portal.

Documents for applications completed on or after 16 March are now available free of charge for 90 days from the day they were completed, instead of the usual 30 days. This includes completed registrations and documents for guaranteed queries such as official copies and official searches.

Register, title plan and document views that are in your download area will also benefit from the extended time.

Identity verification

We will not reject applications where identity evidence is not provided. Instead we will raise a request for information (requisition) so the application does not lose its priority.

We’ve introduced temporary changes to make it easier to verify a person’s identity for land registration purposes.

Identity verification can be undertaken by conveyancers, chartered legal executives and people who work, or have worked, in certain professions.

See Practice guide 67A: temporary changes to HM Land Registry’s evidence of identity requirements for more information.

We accept powers of attorney certified by legal executives until further notice.

Signing deeds

We accept deeds that have been signed using the ‘Mercury signing approach’.

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.

See practice guide 8: execution of deeds for more information.

Electronically signed deeds

We only accept electronic signatures for digital mortgages created and registered under a rule 54C Notice. We are currently unable to authorise electronic signatures for specific customers or for other dispositions.

Lodge an application on behalf of another company

You can lodge applications in portal on behalf of another company. Panel 7 of the AP1 form (‘This application is sent to Land Registry by’) must match the details of the company sending the application.

The lodging company will:

  • have the payment for our fee taken from their account
  • receive any requisitions raised
  • need to give any certificates needed

Protecting interest by way of notice

If you cannot lodge your application and the interest is capable of protection by way of notice then an application can be made to protect your clients’ interests, for example, by way of unilateral notice. See practice guide 19 for more information.

Extensions for notices

We aim to grant any request to either extend a notice period, or allow a further period for making an objection, for any reason related to the coronavirus. There are some circumstances where we will not be able to do so including where:

  • in some cases, the Land Registration Rules 2003 prescribe a period or a maximum period – while we cannot extend the maximum period, we may be able to delay determining the application concerned to allow for late responses
    • an example of where we might do this would be to allow for a late objection to an application for the entry of a restriction (s.45(2) and r.92(9))
  • the registrar serves notice of an application to cancel a caution against first registration (s.18(4) and r.53) or to cancel a unilateral notice (s.36(3) and r.86) on the expiry of the prescribed period, which cannot be extended beyond a maximum number of days, the registrar is obliged to cancel the caution or unilateral notice in the absence of an objection
  • the period for serving counter notice to an application for registration as proprietor by a squatter under Schedule 6 to the Land Registration Act 2002 cannot be extended (para.3 of Sch.6 and r.189) – counter-notice is ineffective once the notice period has expired: paragraphs 3(2) and 4 of Schedule 6
    • rule 189 deals with the notice period for giving counter-notice: no provision is made for the period to be extended

Land Charges applications

We have changed our practice to allow most Land Charges applications to be made by email, through attaching PDF copies of application forms and any supporting evidence. You must have a variable Direct Debit account to be able to do this. A new paragraph 6.1.3 has been added to practice guide 63. The change does not extend to those applications that can already be made through the portal or Business Gateway.

Email alerts

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Published 14 May 2020
Last updated 25 June 2020 + show all updates
  1. We added information on 'Powers of attorney certified by legal executives', 'Electronically signed deeds', how to 'Lodge an application on behalf of another company' and 'Protecting interest by way of notice'.

  2. Added a link to sign up for email alerts from Simon Hayes, Chief Executive and Chief Land Registrar.

  3. Updated 'How conveyancers can request an application to be expedited' and added a new section titled: 'Cancellation dates on expedited applications'.

  4. Conveyancers must provide evidence to show why an application is urgent when requesting an expedite.

  5. Our phone service is operating at a reduced level and with restricted opening hours (8am to 12 midday).

  6. First published.