Tagged: Land Registry

Average Teesside home is worth £25k LESS than it was five years ago

The average homeowner in parts of Teesside has lost £25,000 off the value of their house since the coalition came to power in 2010 – while prices in London have soared.

Exclusive analysis of Land Registry data show the average house price in Redcar and Cleveland has dropped by 21.3% since May 2010, the date of the last election.

The average price is now £92,785 – or £25,134 LESS than it was then.

Only two places in the country – Merthyr Tydfil (down 27.1%) and Blackpool (down 24.9%) – have seen a bigger percentage fall.

In Middlesbrough, prices are down 6.6% since May 2010.

That means the average property is worth £5,904 less now than then.

And Stockton-on-Tees has seen a 2.6% fall, equivalent to £2,944.

Across England and Wales as a whole, house prices have actually gone up by 10.8% since May 2010, with the average property worth £17,595 more than it was then.

Across England and Wales as a whole, house prices have risen by 10.8% since May 2010.

The biggest increases have all been in London – with the 29 top-rising areas all in the capital.

Top of the list is Hackney, where house prices are up 76.3%.

The average house is now worth £634,045 – or £274,491 more than it was five years ago.

In the City of Westminster, meanwhile, the average price is up £464,941 from £610,767 to £1.07m.

When London is taken out of the equation, Tory-run areas seem to have done markedly better than those controlled by other parties.

Ten of the 20 ‘non-London’ areas that have seen the biggest rises are held by the Conservatives, with nine in no overall political control and just one – Slough – held by Labour.

Tory Wokingham (up 25.7%), Hertfordshire (up 24.6%) and Surrey (up 24.6%) have seen the biggest rises outside London.

By contrast 19 of the 20 areas to have seen the biggest falls in house prices are run by Labour.

The only one that isn’t is Lancashire (down 13.6%) – which is in no overall control.

Source – Middlesbrough Gazette, 13 Apr 2015

Alan Beith demands reform as homeowners discover they have a lord of the manor

An MP has called for an urgent review after thousands of homeowners were shocked to discover they had a lord of the manor – with the right to hunt on their property.

More than 90,000 properties, most of them ordinary residential homes, may be subject to archaic legal provisions dating back to before the Norman conquest , an inquiry led by North East MP Sir Alan Beith has warned.

It means the lord of the manor has the right to mine minerals beneath the property, hold fairs and markets on the land or use it for hunting, shooting or fishing.

Homeowners were astounded to learn that they were affected and feared property values could be hit, even though such rights are rarely exercised.

Sir Alan, Liberal Democrat MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed, is chair of the Commons Justice Committee which has held an inquiry into the problem.

In new report, the Committee called an independent review by the Law Commission into whether the rights should be scrapped.

The concept of a lord of the manor may sound old-fashioned but it still exists. Lordships can be bought and sold, and some are held by charitable and educational institutions.

Properties affected are not necessarily in rural areas, or anywhere near a manor house or similar building. Thousands of homes in built up, urban areas have a lord of the manor.

Most affected homeowners appear to have been unaware of the issue, until an attempt to update the law had unintended consequences.

Changes made through the Land Registration Act 2002 forced lords of the manor to register their claims by October 2013 – or lose them.

But it meant homeowners received letters from the Land Registry informing them that a claim affecting their property had been filed.

Around 90,000 claims were registered in the year preceding the deadline, with many people discovering for the first time that their properties may be subject to rights owned by a third party.

A claim may have no practical impact, as it is thought unlikely that a court would back a lord who tried to exercise their rights against the wishes of the property’s owner.

But it appears on the charges register held by the Land Registry, which can be consulted when a property is being sold to check whether there it is affected by statutory restrictions. This has led to fears it could cause problems for people trying to sell their home.

Sir Alan said:

“House owners were astonished to find manorial rights registered on their properties, and worried that this would affect them when selling the house or getting a mortgage. The lack of understanding of such rights, and the way the registration process was carried out and communicated, has led to understandable concerns and anxieties.”

“The Committee heard evidence about considerable problems with the registration process, and in particular the Land Registry’s notifications to owners, the burden of proof of the validity of claims, which falls disproportionately on the landowner, and the use of unilateral notices to register manorial rights.

“However, there was little evidence of problems actually being caused by the exercise of manorial rights in practice in the present day.”

Simply abolishing the system could be difficult, he said. In some cases, manorial rights could have a genuine value, such as when there was a real prospect of mining or extracting minerals from the land.

But Sir Alan said: “We nevertheless consider that the situation where a claim can be made over areas of dense residential properties – where rights are unlikely or impossible to be exercised – is anomalous.”

Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 22 Jan 2015

Land Registry sell off abandoned (for the moment)

The controversial sell-off of the Land Registry was abandoned yesterday (Monday, July 14), after ministers admitted it had run into overwhelming opposition.

The likely £1bn privatisation of the 150-year-old institution – which employs more than 400 civil servants in Durham City – was suspended indefinitely, MPs were told in a statement.

The decision followed strong criticism from solicitors and trades unions about putting a private firm in charge of all land and property data and the threat of higher charges for the public.

Yesterday, the Department for Business (BIS) admitted that 91 per cent of respondents to its consultation did not believe the shake-up would deliver services “more efficiently and effectively”.

In addition, 88 per cent of respondents “did not agree that the overall design provides the right checks and balances to protect the integrity of the register”.

In recent weeks, the Liberal Democrats had made clear they were getting cold feet – over a deal that the Conservatives hoped would raise substantial funds for the Treasury.

Business minister Michael Fallon told MPs: “Given the importance of the Land Registry to the effective operation of the UK property market, we have concluded that further consideration would be valuable.

 “Therefore, at this time, no decision has been taken to change Land Registry’s model.”

However, Durham City MP Roberta Blackman-Woods – while welcoming the move – urged ministers to come clean about their long-term intentions for the Land Registry.

Although officials briefed that the sale had been “abandoned”, BIS also said it still favoured privatisation and would continue to “develop the policy”.

Ms Blackman-Woods said: “I want them to scrap the whole idea, not just put it on hold this side of the general election.

“I will be writing to Vince Cable and Michael Fallon, asking them to accept the overwhelming evidence that this privatisation would create a conflict of interest and that people would not trust the data as much.”

Leading City firms had been approached for their advice on setting up a joint venture between the government and a private company, to take charge of the Land Registry.

BIS also considered turning it into a state-owned company that could be sold off, or letting a private company run the body as a so-called ‘GovCo’.

Yesterday, officials denied the U-turn was connected to fierce criticism of Dr Cable over the sell-off of Royal Mail – allegedly at a £1bn loss.

BIS also made clear that the Land Registry would press ahead with creating a single register, instead of separate lists maintained and delivered by 348 local authorities.

It said standardising fees and turnaround times would end the situation where fees vary between £3 and £96 across the country – and turnaround times between one and 42 days.

Source –  Durham Times,  15 July 2014

Keep Land Registry public campaign wins 100,000 backers

More than 100,000 people have backed a campaign to keep the Land Registry in public ownership.

The Government held a consultation on the future of the 150-year-old institution, which handles land and property data and employs more than 400 civil servants in Durham City, earlier this year, with critics warning privatisation, huge job cuts, loss of confidence and higher charges for the public could follow.

At the weekend, a national newspaper reported Business Secretary Vince Cable had vetoed any sell-off, said to be worth around £1.2bn, as ‘just too complicated’.

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said the Government would publish its response to the consultation shortly.

Now Durham City Labour MP Roberta Blackman-Woods has joined Labour’s shadow business minister Toby Perkins, leaders of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union and campaign group 38 Degrees in presenting a 100,000-name signature calling for the Registry to remain in the public sector to the Government.

Durham’s Land Registry office is said to be worth £10m a year to the local economy.

Dr Blackman-Woods said: “The Land Registry office in Durham provides many good jobs that we need locally and I don’t want this to be diminished in any way by potential privatisation.”

 Previously, business minister Michael Fallon said giving the Land Registry more flexibility would allow it to support economic growth in the wider economy.
Source –  Durham Times,  02 July 2014

Durham Land Registry workers strike over privatisation fears

> The PCS union may wring its hands and claim “we are only obeying orders” when it comes to its DWP members enforcing sanctions on the unemployed, but it seems other sections can get off their collective arse when it’s them likely to lose an income.

Workers who fear for their futures under a possible privatisation began a 48-hour strike today (Wednesday, May 14).

Staff at the Land Registry office in Durham City are among thousands of Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) members employed by the agency across the country who are taking action.

They are concerned that the Government agency is going to be privatised and that offices will be closed and jobs lost.

The Land Registry employs about 400 people in Durham , most of them PCS members, and is one of the city’s major employers.

PCS branch chairman Kim Lowes said: “We had a really good turn-out, in all about 30 people visited the picket line.

“We think it is the best-supported strike action we have had, certainly in my time at Durham Land Registry. We think upwards of 85 per cent of members were out.

“We have had national strikes in the past about pay and pensions but this one is different. This is potentially about the future of the Land Registry in Durham completely.

“If they go down the road of office closures and Durham is one of them, then nobody will be safe regardless of grade or how long they have worked there.

“There are an awful lot of families and couples in particular that work there that will lose both wage earners.

 “This could see the end of the Land Registry presence in Durham after 50 years.”

Ms Lowes said workers were concerned about the future quality of the service, treatment of personal data and charges under a private owner.

Source – Durham Times,  14 May 2014