Skip to content

Land Charges

Requested on
Thu 3rd March, 2011
Reference
FOI 1223
Resolution
Information provided

Question

Environmental Information Request: Local Land Charges.
I am writing to request information under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004. In order to assist you with this request, I have outlined below my query as specifically as possible.
In 2002 a new Con 29 was introduced. Local authorities placed restrictions on personal searchers. Councils received advice from leading counsel that such restrictions were unlawful.
The matter was referred to the OFT who conducted a Markets and Policy Study. The result was summarised in the Law Society’s Gazette headline of the 29 September 2005 “OFT Report slams local authorities for restricting access to search information”
I would like details please of all restrictions you have continued to impose on personal searchers since September 2005.
Please provide:
The appropriate written reports showing the legal authority for restrictions
The objective justification for all restrictions
All records showing the factors considered in the objective considerations, the parties consulted in all the exercises and copies of all dated reviews
The frequency and details of all written reviews and the restrictions that were introduced and remained or were abolished.

The OFT Market Study stipulated that:
By 2007 local authorities should make available all the unrefined information they hold that is needed to compile a property search to all those who ask; and
Information must be made available on terms that do not advantage local authorities’ own compiling activities over competing compilers.
· Accordingly please detail the time
a. taken to produce an official search
b taken to produce An NLIS search
c. personal searchers waited for an appointment to inspect records that were required to be available during normal office hours.
· How have a to c above fluctuated in the light of seasonal movements and the financial downturn in the property market?
· With regard to 3, please advise of any restrictions on the number of appointments and/or searches permitted per day if not given in response to the query above.

On the 10 February 2011 the Office for National Statistics reported that property sales had dropped by 44% in the wake of the recession
Their figures show that between 2007 and 2008 the number of property sales in Britain fell from 1.6 million to 900,000.
There was a further, smaller decrease in the number of transactions between 2008 and 2009 to 859,000 - a fall of 4.4%.
Property transactions across regions in England and Wales between 2007 and 2008 gave a similar picture, declining between 42% and 48%.
Data from Savills for 2010 shows the number of housing transactions is down more than 50pc compared with an average of the previous five years
· How have your land charge staff numbers altered in the light of this fall off in search numbers

Answer

I would like details please of all restrictions you have continued to impose on personal searchers since September 2005.  - No restrictions in place.
 Please provide:
The appropriate written reports showing the legal authority for restrictions  -  N/A 
The objective justification for all restrictions  - N/A
All records showing the factors considered in the objective considerations, the parties consulted in all the exercises and copies of all dated reviews  - No Records
The frequency and details of all written reviews and the restrictions that were introduced and remained or were abolished.   No written reviews undertaken as no restrictions in place

 ·     please detail the time
      a. taken to produce an official search  - On average 3-5 working days
b taken to produce An NLIS search  - On average 3-5 working days
c. personal searchers waited for an appointment to inspect records that were required to be available during normal office hours.  - On average 3-5 working days
·     How have a to c above fluctuated in the light of seasonal movements and the financial downturn in the property market?  - No records kept of fluctuations
·    With regard to 3, please advise of any restrictions on the number of appointments and/or searches permitted per day if not given in response to the query above.  - No Restrictions     ·     How have your land charge staff numbers altered in the light of this fall off in search numbers? "  - No changes as the Land Charges Staff are shared with another service

Back to top