Land Registry

Business, Innovation and Skills written question – answered on 17th January 2012.

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Photo of Gareth Thomas Gareth Thomas Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office), Party Chair, Co-operative Party

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what plans he has to improve access to the records of land ownership held by the Land Registry; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Edward Davey Edward Davey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

The Land Register is open to public inspection to assist the buying and selling of property and land, as well as to provide publicly available information about property and land. We have had an open register since 1990.

The information is made available online to both citizens and professionals by means of two separate web-based services. This allows anyone upon payment of a small fee to access Land Registry’s records. These services are very popular with property professionals and the public alike. Our online service for the general public was launched in January 2005. It helped Land Registry to meet Government targets of making all publicly available information accessible electronically and proved very successful, amply demonstrated by the fact that today ‘Find a Property’ receives up to 20,000 downloads a week.

However, we are aware of the fact that this means of easy access has the potential to facilitate fraud. We take the issue of fraud very seriously and work closely with stakeholders including the Law Society, Solicitors Regulation Authority, Council of Licensed Conveyancers, National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, National Fraud Authority and Financial Services Authority as well as land registries in other countries to do all we can to reduce the opportunities for fraud and identify when it has happened.

This means that we do insist upon registration requirements in order to use these web-based services, and Land Registry has no plans to reduce or remove these requirements.

Land Registry is always looking for ways to maximise the publication of the data it holds. As the Government have already announced, Land Registry together with Ordnance Survey, Met Office and Companies House, is now one of the four founder members of the Public Data Group (PDG) of Trading Funds. As part of its commitment to the Government’s growth and transparency agenda, Land Registry will be releasing detailed customer transaction and property price information free of charge via a new dedicated webpage. The housing market forms a key component of economic growth which is why Land Registry will be releasing the residential property sales and transaction information free of charge, helping the market to be better informed about trends in price and volume.

As part of this, by the end of January 2012, Land Registry will make available for free, downloadable for reuse in an accessible and reuseable format under the Open Government Licence (OGL) the following data, updated monthly:

i. number and types of applications by customer by month

ii. number and types of transactions for value by customer by month

iii. number of applications in England and Wales, by region and local authority district (or equivalent) by month

iv. number of searches by month (which can be a leading indicator of housing market movements).

Furthermore, from March 2012, Land Registry will make available ‘Price Paid information’ showing all residential property sales in England and Wales at address level. This will be downloadable for reuse, in a reuseable format under the OGL, and updated monthly.

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