Russell Wilson, lead voluntary registration advisor for the commercial sector, gives us an insight into why increasing numbers of commercial property owners are choosing to move their titles to the Land Register of Scotland.
With the land register due to replace the 400-year-old General Register of Sasines by 2024, owners of land and property across all sectors have the opportunity to move their property titles to the land register using RoS’s voluntary registration process.
For many owners of commercial property, the greater certainty and security and the reduced business costs resulting from a land register title mean that voluntary registration makes a lot of sense. The number of applications RoS received from the commercial sector between January and May this year was up 60 per cent on the same period last year, and we expect the rate to increase as we engage with more commercial owners.
As part of our goal to complete the land register, we’re contacting a very wide range of organisations to inform them about voluntary registration, including pension funds, utility companies, retail parks, airports, universities, hotels and golf courses, to name a few.
For many of the owners we’ve met with so far, the primary driver in the choice to register is the prospect of faster and cheaper property transactions. Since the conveyancing work required to buy or sell a property that’s already on the land register is much simpler than for a property on the sasine register, the time and money involved in property sales can be dramatically reduced.
The clarity provided by a land register title is also a key factor for many businesses. Whereas the sasine register relies on the verbal descriptions of property boundaries contained in deeds, the land register shows exact boundaries on a digital map. This, along with the state-backed warranty included in a land register title, means organisations know exactly what they own, which assists with business planning and asset management.
For some larger, more complex organisations, particularly those wishing to dispose of properties they no longer use, the mapping element of the voluntary registration process can be invaluable in itself, as it’s often the first time a comprehensive record of assets has been produced.
We asked some lenders to give us their view of the advantages of moving to the land register. Steven Emerson from Virgin Money told us:
“The land register title is easier to interpret, affords a single document for all requisite information and provides stronger assurances for our purpose. Additionally, it negates the requirement to hold and store original title documentation.”
Gordon Gracie, mortgage operations project manager at RBS, cites easier searching, and more readily available data on property transactions, among the benefits of a land register title.
Here at RoS we’re keen to offer commercial property owners as much assistance as possible in moving their titles from the sasine register to the land register. We can provide a dedicated advisor to guide organisations through the process, and we’re also able to offer a 25 per cent discount on our voluntary registration fees until at least mid-2019.