Responsible Agency

1. Which agency/government body/authority is responsible for land registration?ION?

Her Majesty’s Land Registry for England and Wales.

2. If the responsibility for property registration is dealt with by an agency/authority, to which government department is it responsible to?

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

3. How is the organization managed?

The governance framework of Land Registry includes:

  • the Secretary of State for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills,
  • the Land Registry Board under an independent non-executive Chair; and
  • the Chief Land Registrar who is the Chief Executive and who

leads and manages business delivery and is accountable to Parliament.

The Secretary of State for BIS has ministerial responsibility for Land Registry and for the legislation under which it operates, which is delegated to the chosen BIS Minister. The Minister is also responsible for appointing the Chair of the Land Registry Board and Chief Land Registrar.

The Land Registry is headed by the “Chief Land Registrar and Chief Executive”. He leads an Executive Board, which has responsibility for the day-to-day management of the Land Registry. The Executive Board consists of the Chief Land Registrar and six Directors, who are the heads of different areas of Land Registry organisation (legal services, operations, finance, commercial and customer strategy, information systems, human resources). The Executive Board is supported and supervised by the Land Registry Board. This is headed by an independent non-executive Chairman, and includes three non-executive Directors from outside Land Registry, the Chief Land Registrar and two of the executive Directors.

The Chief Land Registrar’s appointment is permanent, and the Directors, including the independent non-executive Directors, are also permanent. They change only when they resign.

4. Describe the organisational framework

There is one Land Registry. We operate through a number of offices (currently 14) located throughout England and Wales. Our Head Office and Croydon Office share a building in Croydon. Our Information Systems Directorate, our Plymouth Office and our Land Charges and Agricultural Credits departments share the Plymouth office.

We have moved from a system of processing applications by geographical location at particular offices to one in which most customers are allocated to a team in one of the offices. The team is dedicated to serving a number of businesses. They cultivate personal relationships they with their customers, working with them to improve the service they offer.

There is a centralised database serving all offices.

5. How is the agency/government body/authority funded?

The Land Registry is a non-ministerial government department, an executive agency (since 1990) and a trading fund (since 1993) that makes no call on monies voted by Parliament. By statute, we are required to ensure that our income from fees covers all of our expenditure under normal operating conditions.

The Land Registry must pay an annual dividend to Her Majesty’s Treasury, being 6.3% of the average capital employed during the financial year. If the operating surplus is larger than is needed to pay the dividend and invest for the future, the Land Registry must reduce its fees. This is done by means of a Fee Order, which is a statutory instrument (secondary legislation).

6. Are the staff of the agency/government, department/authority civil servants?

Staff are civil servants on permanent contracts. Occasionally the Land Registry will use specialist consultants on short term contracts. Staff are taken on by our Human Resources department, using the central Government recruitment agency to advertise the vacancies. Due to increased digitization, the Land Registry is gradually reducing its staff, so most vacancies are filled internally.

7. Who is responsible for cadastral/mapping information? Is it the same organisation or a separate agency/department?

Ordnance Survey is the National Mapping Authority of Great Britain, and creates, maintains and disseminates consistent, definitive and authoritative geospatial and cartographic data and products of Great  Britain in the national interest. The Land Registry now uses Ordnance Survey’s MasterMap® as a basis for all its plans. MasterMap is Ordnance Survey’s definitive large-scale digital map data product. However, the Ordnance Survey maps do not have any public administrative, taxation, ownership or tenure information attached to them so they are not cadastral.

8. What are the principal functions of the registering department/agency/authority?

Our principal function is to keep a register of title to freehold and leasehold land and charges throughout England and Wales and to record dealings with land once it is registered. On behalf of the Crown we guarantee title to registered estates and interests in land. Land Registry comprises the Registration of Title department, dealing with our main business, and the much smaller Land Charges and Agricultural Credits departments. The authority for the system of land registration is the Land Registration Act 2002. In addition to maintaining the register of registered land, the Chief Land Registrar is also responsible for maintaining:

  • The Land Charges registers kept under the Land Charges Act 1972. These do not record ownership of unregistered land. Their primary task is to protect certain interests in unregistered land and to maintain the bankruptcy index for England and Wales.
  • The Agricultural Credits register.  The Agricultural Credits Act 1928 facilitates the provision of bank finance to farmers secured on their farming stock (which includes crops, livestock and agricultural machinery). The Act gives farmers a statutory right to create a floating charge over their farming stock.  For the purposes of that Act, farmer does not include a company, only individuals and partnerships.

9. What are the key values/principles underpinning registration of title in your system?

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

Land Registry’s strategic objectives are:

  • Efficiency – to unlock efficiency in the public sector and land and property market
  • Data – to maximise the reuse of our data for the benefit of the wider economy
  • Assurance – to increase and extend the assurance and compliance provided to the market
  • Capability – to grow and maximise the benefit of our organisational capability.

10. What registration system of property do you have in your country (title/deed)?

Title system.

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