Land Registry Updates

Land Registry Updates

Key Contact: Steve Morris

Author: Abby Stephens

In response to COVID-19, the Land Registry announced last Friday 1st May 2020 that it would introduce temporary changes, with effect from 4th May 2020, to make it easier to verify a person’s identity and sign deeds for land registration purposes.

Identity verification

Practice Guide 67A: temporary changes to HM Land Registry’s evidence of identity requirements’, is to be read in conjunction with ‘Practice Guide 67: evidence of identity: conveyancers’ and in addition to conveyancers and chartered legal executives, people who work in other professions can now also verify identity, for example, teachers, dentists, accountants and police officers. The full list of professions can be read within the practice guide here.

Following the temporary closure of HM Land Registry’s customer information centres and the closure of conveyancing organisations’ offices, the Land Registry will accept applications by non-conveyancer customers (e.g. citizens), where their identity has been verified by someone who is not a conveyancer. However, to reduce the risk of fraud, only people who work in the professions (or worked in one of these professions before retiring) in the full list, which will be kept under review, can verify a person’s identity. The person verifying the identity and the person whose identity is being verified must not be related to each other in any way.

Verification of a person’s identity can also be done via video call, subject to certain conditions. Except where verification is being done by a conveyancer, the following conditions must be satisfied:

  • the person whose identity is to be verified and the verifier must both hold a current valid UK full passport;
  • they must have known each other for at least one year;
  • they must both provide a copy of the personal details page of their passport; and
  • a screenshot photograph taken during the video call showing the faces of both people must be provided.

Where verification is by one of the authorised professions, a screenshot photograph must be captured of the video call while it is taking place that shows both the person whose identity is being verified and the verifier. A printed copy of that photograph must be submitted along with the form ID3 (for private individuals) or ID4 (for corporate bodies). The photograph can be taken by either person. It must be in colour and show the faces of both people looking straight at the camera and each face must be sufficiently clear to enable a comparison with the photograph on the copy of the personal details page of the passports.

Signing deeds

HM Land Registry will also, until further notice, accept deeds that have been signed using the ‘Mercury PDF’ signing approach for the purposes of registration of a transfer or other dispositionary deed. This will require the signature page to be signed in pen and witnessed in person (not via video call). Each party will then send a single email to their conveyancer (who will need to agree to this before the process starts), with the final agreed version of the document and a scanned or photographed copy of the signed signature page. Details of the full steps can be found in the updated version of ‘Practice guide 8: execution of deeds’, which can also be found here.

The combining of the transfer (or other dispositionary deeds) and signature pages may be done either by them being (i) electronically combined or (ii) printed out and then physically combined and the conveyancer must certify the resulting transfer as a true copy of the original in the usual way.

If you have any questions in relation to these changes, please contact Stephen Morris in our Real Estate team.

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