Coronavirus (COVID-19): update from Chief Executive and Chief Land Registrar Simon Hayes

View this in a browser

Dear HM Land Registry customers

Following the Government’s announcement earlier this week on new guidance around public health, I wanted to update you on the current status of all our services. I also would like to take the opportunity to share where we are focusing our efforts during what is still an uncertain and challenging time for all in our sector.

We are now operating very close to the production levels which we were achieving before the lockdown in March, and we do not believe that this will be impacted by the new guidance. Earlier in the year we took the decision to enable most of our staff to work remotely. We believe this will now allow our services to continue largely unaffected by the restrictions announced this week. That said, we are constantly reviewing our position and adjusting where necessary to ensure we deliver our services and promote public health in the most effective way. We also want to make sure we can maintain service levels everywhere in the event of local lockdowns.

We continue to be very mindful of the impact this has on you and your customers. Before the national lockdown we know you were already facing delays for the more complex applications. As a result of the disruption to our services and the period where we were unable to process all applications, we currently have a higher number of outstanding cases than we did at the start of the year. However this number has come down significantly since the peak in mid-summer and continues to reduce. Registration applications will still take us longer to complete than we would like, but we are moving in the right direction.  

At the time of writing simple register updates are taking us approximately one month to complete. Most other application types are taking us up to six months to complete, with some complex applications taking longer.

We are of course still able to expedite urgent applications – over 96% of all expedited applications are processed within 10 days.

Our top priority is reducing delays for our customers and I expect those longest waiting times to reduce over the coming weeks and months. We are continuing to increase our capacity by recruiting over 500 new colleagues by January 2021, and optimising the way in which we are currently required to work.

From 5 October we will be extending the opening hours of our Customer Support Centre until 5pm each day. We are also focusing our transformation efforts on changes that will make a real difference to customers and improve our efficiency. I hope you will have seen the recent announcements we have made on accepting electronic signatures and the recent enhancements we have made to our online portal to make it easier to for you to manage your applications with us. We are also planning to make the estimated completion date for every application available to our portal customers.

I would like to thank all those customers who have worked in partnership with us to develop these changes. I hope this is just the start of more successful collaborations that will improve the conveyancing process for you and the market as a whole.

We will continue to share more information in the coming weeks and months. Any news, updates or changes to our service provision will be updated on our website and highlighted through portal messages, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Thank you very much, and I wish you the very best during these difficult times.


Simon Hayes
Chief Executive and Chief Land Registrar