Friday, 20 May 2016

this land is your land?

You may have noticed there's another consultation about Land Registry's future. And it's nearly closed so get consulting if you haven't already.

And I mean get consulting NOW! Unless that is you have now, had had until now or never will have any interest in any of the following - whether or not you actually own or have rights in the land and property that you think you have rights in, who has rights in the land or property that you may be interested in acquiring rights in, who, more broadly, owns what (that's for transparency and related junkies and journalists et al), the literally existential matter of land and property and so on.

Are you crying foul sir? Well, it's more to do with trust and confidence - a familiar theme from last week's missive about addressing.

Now there may well be things wrong with HMLR and its business model but at this stage that's not really the point. The point is that we, the owners and future owners (via our banks and mortgages) of the 85% or so of property that is currently documented by HMLR, and the whole value/supply chain (estate agents, conveyancers, removals, planners, developers, the lot) put our collective faith in the currently sainted Land Registry when it comes to the acquisition and exchange of property and promissory notes. Accountable to no shareholder (other than as a Trading Fund to government) HMLR is an integral component of the property boom of the last 20 or more years.

What could fracture the confidence of lenders, buyers, sellers, borrowers (and potentially moisten the lips of barristers)? Doubt i hear you say? Distrust? Suspicion? Uncertainty? We all know what that does to a stock valuation! What will it do to land and property sales? Who really owns that? Do I even own it? I am sure I did pay for it but now I can't even find it! And so on.

It is damnably difficult to get the approvals to gain access to HMLR's data, arguably for good reason. That data and it's perceived absolute authority and uncorruptibility are the basis for our prosperity. Hacked land registration (ownership, liens et al) data throw the whole system into disrepute overnight.

I don't wish to speak ill of interested parties but there may well be incentives that we can all imagine that would undermine that current confidence.

So, am off to consult.......

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