The government does not need to resort to Land Registry privatisation to maximise returns in order to pay down the national debt, a trade body has said today.
The Conveyancing Association says increasing the Land Registry registration fee and reversing a recent halving of fees for electronic registrations would ‘immediately’ double Land Registry’s income ‘yet is a relatively small burden for the homebuyer in amongst the other costs and charges involved in the process’.
The new fee structure could be renamed the ‘land registration tax’.
The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills has been consulting on its second proposal in two years to sell parts of the registry to a private investor.
At a meeting of the association’s management committee in April, a ‘majority’ of members voted to oppose the government’s plans.
Association chair Eddie Goldsmith (pictured) said the body was ‘not so naïve’ to think collective opposition to the plans would mean privatisation ‘is stopped in its tracks’.
He added: ‘It’s clear that it is the government’s favoured option and therefore it may go ahead regardless of our views.
‘This is why, within our consultation response, we have suggested a number of safeguards that we would like to see in place, as well as recommendations about how a newly privatised Land Registry should be managed, overseen and ultimately deliver its services.’
Meanwhile Mark Riddick, chair of searches company Search Acumen, says Land Registry has ‘stayed true to the principle of open data’ by working with a ‘multitude’ of small firms and entrepreneurs.
He warned: ‘Selling Land Registry as a single private enterprise stymies all of this. Any buyer will surely seek to retain exclusive or privileged rights to data for themselves rather than continue to make it accessible to all, creating an unaccountable monopoloy.’
City lawyers have also issued a stark warning to the government over its plans.