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Delays in Property Registration – A Cause for Concern?

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

The property industry has been subject to an increase in activity over the last couple of years; with many stakeholders still dealing with the aftermath. HM Land Registry being no exception: a rise in application submissions having resulted in extended processing times.

Property owners are now finding that following completion, they are not recorded as the registered owner of their property for some time. For many owner-occupiers, a delay in the registration of a purchase is of limited concern, the likelihood being that they will have no immediate plans affecting their ownership of the property.

However, HM Land Registry have recognised that there are circumstances under which delays to processing times may cause issues:

Back-to-Back Transactions

If a property has been purchased with the intent to re-sell or refinance shortly after completion, any subsequent transaction may end up delayed due to an owner being unable to prove their ownership.

Complex Transactions

First Registrations are also causing issues – both new builds and old, unregistered properties. HM Land Registry have advised that delays with transactions of this type is largely due to needing to ask applicants for further clarification on aspects of the transaction post-completion.

The nature of an application for first registration means that applications will often be referred to specialist teams responsible for examining all documents included with an application – it may well be the case that at this point, further information will indeed be required to complete a registration.

It is our experience that delays to complex transactions extend beyond unregistered land and the apparent need for further clarification – with applications relating to registered Leasehold properties and Transfers of Part also falling victim to a hold-up in processing.

In many of these cases, HM Land Registry are providing estimated completion dates around two years after they receive an application – simply due to the nature of the application, and often without any investigation into the land concerned.

Once an estimated completion date is exceeded, HM Land Registry fail to provide a further date – which has been happening before the processing of an application begins.

A Solution

For property owners intending to engage in further transactions shortly after completing a purchase, HM Land Registry have advised that owners can utilise their free ‘fast-track’ service to ensure registration details are updated quickly.

‘Fast-Tracking’ an application

Both residential and commercial owners can apply to expedite an application subject to certain criteria being met. These are where: –

– A delay is causing, or will cause issues unrelated to a land transaction (i.e., managing a property post marriage, divorce or bereavement), or
– A delay will risk a subsequent property transaction (i.e., a sale following renovation works to a residential property, a sale of an industrial unit, development work, the grant of a lease, or a refinancing transaction).

Property owners ought to note that HM Land Registry have expressly stated that the age of an application is not a factor when granting an expedite request – meaning that many applications will continue to be subject to excessive processing times for the time being.

Further Information

HM Land Registry have published further information on their current processing times and specific requirements for expedition, which can be found here:-
HM Land Registry: processing times – GOV.UK
Request an expedite – GOV.UK

Chloe Lake


Chloe Lake

Trainee Solicitor

She assists senior fee earners on a wide range of legal matters from land acquisitions and developments as well as business leases, sales and purchases, lease renewals and extensions, through to larger commercial property and land transactions.