Communities and Local Government CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by the Land Registry

Executive Summary

1. Land Registry provides this submission in response to the invitation published by the Department for Communities and Local Government Committee who are conducting an inquiry into the private rented housing sector.

2. Land Registry is committed to supporting growth and innovation in the wider economy, unlocking efficiency in the public sector and property market and to increasing and extending the assurance and compliance provided to the property and rented market.

3. Land Registry has a vision to be recognised as a world leader in the digital delivery of land registration services and in the management and re-use of land and property data.

4. Land Registry could be the custodian of a Private Landlord Register if the Select Committee considers that regulation of landlords is required due to our experience in managing land and property registers.


5. Land Registry is a non-ministerial Government department created in 1862, led by the Chief Land Registrar and Chief Executive responsible to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills. It is a Trading Fund in accordance with the Government Trading Funds Act 1973, as amended by the Government Trading Act 1990.

6. Land Registry’s principal function is to keep a register of title to freehold and leasehold land throughout England and Wales.

7. Our functions are entirely statutory; we have no prerogative powers and are self funded through the charging of fees. The Land Registration Act 2002 governs the registration of land in England and Wales.

8. Land Registry guarantees title to registered estates and interests in land and has successfully assured, enabled and underpinned the property market by providing security for £1 trillion of residential mortgage lending.

9. In December 2011 over 23 million electronic titles are registered. There are three parts to the register:

The property register, which contains a description of the land in the title and may also give details of any rights that benefit the land, such as a right of way over nearby land. In the case of a leasehold title, it gives brief details of the lease.

The proprietorship register, which gives the quality of the title, such as an absolute title, and the name and address of the legal owner, and shows whether there are any restrictions on their power to sell, mortgage or otherwise deal with the land.

The charges register, which contains details of registered mortgages and notice of other financial burdens secured on the property. It also gives notice of other rights and interests that may affect the property, such as leases, rights of way or covenants.

Factual Information

10. Land Registry is a founder member of the Public Data Group (PDG) alongside Companies House, the Met Office and Ordnance Survey. The PDG seeks to develop existing best practice around the availability of publically owned data as part of initiatives to support Phase 2 of the Governments’ Growth Review.

11. We have received positive feedback and approval from Ministers to proceed with a new five year Business Strategy. Our Minister, Michael Fallon, Minister of State for Business and Enterprise has confirmed his support for our new strategic direction and has urged us to move quickly to begin implementation of key initiatives.

12. Integral to our Business Strategy is Land Registry’s ability to implement legislation. Currently, Land Registry can only undertake activities relating to the registration of title but is seeking an amendment to its legislation to include being able to hold other land and property related information. At present this is limited to activities relating to the registration of land. This legislative change will allow us to undertake additional services for the benefit of the land and property market and this could include property information within the private rented sector.

13. Land Registry has previously responded to proposals for improvements to the private rented sector, specifically, the Rugg Review Consultation in 2009:

“The private rented sector: professionalism and quality The Government Response to the Rugg Review Consultation.”

At the time, Land Registry prepared a simple mock up of how a landlord register could look. Collaboration with DCLG led to the development and delivery of a detailed blueprint and wireframes for the proposed register and DCLG accepted the proposals from Land Registry to progress. However new policies within the Coalition meant that Land Registry and DCLG were unable to proceed any further.

14. Land Registry did not respond formally to the Welsh Government White Paper: “Homes for Wales A White Paper for Better Lives and Communities,” but is seeking collaboration opportunity with the Welsh Assembly with a view that Land Registry hold a Private Landlord Register on behalf of the Welsh Government and its Local Authorities.

15. Land Registry has received outline support from the National Landlord Association (NLA) stating that, in principle, they would be happy to work collaboratively with Land Registry to provide a Private Landlord Register that offers value to accredited landlords and tenants.


16. Working in collaboration with DCLG and accreditation schemes, it is recommended that Land Registry could be the custodian of a Private Landlord Register that would contribute to the social benefit of all stakeholders and offer a higher degree of assurance to both tenant and landlords.

17. Land Registry would welcome the opportunity to share our experiences in creating and maintaining a register, and to present our detailed blueprint and wireframes for a private landlord register. A copy of a mock register is available to view on request.

18. As the keeper of the definitive register of title for land in England and Wales, please note our interest for any ongoing dialogue following your enquiries. We anticipate that there may be discussion on any potential legislative changes to impose any sanction or regulation and we would clearly have an interest in informing that dialogue.

January 2013

Prepared 16th July 2013