The Council of Property Search Organisations (COPSO) said it supported the Local Land Charges centralisation project and its objective to digitise data, making it available in real time.
It noted this would speed up the conveyancing process and could also facilitate the potential for using data productively much earlier in the home buying and selling process.
However, the trade body warned this was moving forward too slowly with data from only seven local authorities centralised so far.
“It is COPSO’s view that the pace of take-on has to be dramatically increased and, in particular, that resource is focused on optimising the short-term benefits,” it said.
“This can be done by identifying those authorities which currently operate at the slowest speed, at the highest cost, where there are barriers to accessing data, or where there are concerns over the quality of data.
“Some examples which COPSO has identified would include Derby City Council, Cheshire East, Lichfield District Council and Camden,” it added.
The COPSO also called for greater cooperation from central government.
It noted that there was a need for transparency, openness and cross sector engagement if the opportunity to improve the provision of search information is to be maximised for the long-term benefits of homebuyers.
Resource and IT system
A statement on the Derby City Council website admitted there had been problems and said its current turnaround time for Local Authority Searches was 22 working days in September, compared to the end of May when it was 38 working days.
“In recent months our search turnaround times have been longer than we would have liked. This has been due to resource issues and the transfer of records to a new IT system,” the statement said.
“Our small but highly experienced team are working hard to reduce the current search backlog further.”
It continued: “Searches are generally worked on in the order that they are received. In urgent cases we may be able to return search results to your solicitor or conveyancer earlier where they are able to advise us of an agreed completion date.
“We will aim to return searches to our customers within ten working days by 31 December 2019,” it added.
Camden Council also admitted it had suffered problems and delays recently.
“Local Land Charges currently have a backlog of searches which has arisen as a result of staff shortages – a number of people left at short notice and we have had problems recruiting,” a statement on its website said.
“We have appointed a new member of staff and another staff member will start shortly.
“We are seeking to rectify the backlog issue as quickly as possible and turn around searches as quickly as possible, but in the meantime please contact the Local Land Charges Team for urgent overdue search applications. We will endeavour to try and prioritise these,” it added.
Mortgage Solutions has contacted Cheshire East and Lichfield District Council for comment.