Allan MacKenzie, senior responsible officer for the keeper-induced registration (KIR) project within the land register completion programme, gives an update on how the project is going.
On 21 November last year, we began to pilot keeper-induced registration (KIR) by using the mechanism in four registration counties. This is a new power for Registers of Scotland (RoS), brought in as part of the 2012 Act, and it’s an essential part of our work to complete the Land Register of Scotland by 2024. We’ve now registered more than 1,300 properties through KIR, and the number is rising every day.
KIR allows RoS to move titles from the General Register of Sasines onto the land register without an application from the owner. It enables RoS to register properties that are unlikely to come onto the land register by any other means, such as voluntary registration or in response to a trigger such as a sale or a new standard security.
Since KIR is a new and different method of registering land and property titles, we did a lot of preparatory work before starting to register titles in November 2016. In the summer of 2015, we conducted a series of pilot projects to help determine how we might best use the new power. The results showed clearly that KIR is best suited to urban, residential properties in RoS ‘research areas’. These are areas containing a number of similar properties, such as housing estates, where we already have extensive existing information about the content of similar titles.
We held a public consultation following the pilots, and most respondents agreed with our proposed approach to use KIR initially for private properties in research areas.
Through an intensive period of development and testing we have created a robust process for KIR. This included deciding on the most suitable means of advising property owners that their title has been moved from one public register to the other. Our customer research verified that the best approach is to notify homeowners (or their professional agents) that a KIR title has been created when the next transaction for a property is being prepared.
In this initial phase, we’re limiting our use of KIR to selected private properties within some research areas in Midlothian, Angus, Glasgow and Dumbarton. The areas where KIR is active are shown at ros.gov.uk/kir. Working in small geographic areas means we can refine our practices if required and build up our knowledge before rolling out a fuller programme of KIR for private properties from April 2017 onwards.
We are also working on our KIR approach to public sector properties within research areas. This will mostly be local authority housing stock, plus some small pockets of land belonging to other public bodies. The internal RoS processes for the KIR of public properties are likely to be slightly different to those for private properties, and these are currently being developed in our in-house innovation centre, with Clackmannan the first registration county to be piloted for public properties.
Professor George Gretton, who was lead commissioner for the Scottish Law Commission project that led to the 2012 Act, visited the KIR team in Glasgow in December 2016. He commented:
“I was interested to watch the operation and was reassured that the level of quality control appeared to be high. The KIR process promises to produce a rapid reduction in the number of remaining GRS [General Register of Sasines] titles within a fairly short timescale, and that is to be welcomed.”
As KIR continues to progress it brings a complete land register, with its many benefits for individual owners and for Scotland as a whole, much closer.