I’m continuing to send you regular updates to outline the measures that Registers of Scotland (RoS) are taking in response to the ongoing public health emergency and how these measures have been helping your businesses and customers.
On Wednesday 13 May the UK Government set out new guidance as part of measures aimed at restarting the housing market in England. The Scottish Government’s guidance continues to state that, as part of ongoing measures to save lives and protect the NHS, residential property transactions in Scotland should, where possible, be postponed and rescheduled.
For transactions that can’t be delayed, and can be completed while adhering to government guidance, RoS has delivered a range of digital submission solutions to support the Scottish property market.
Our digital submission portal for advance notices has been operating successfully for more than a month. We are receiving and successfully processing circa 400 advance notices per day.
As those of you who have used it will know, customers receive the usual email confirmation when their advance notice has been taken on to the system. However, you may have noticed that the language in this notification is slightly different to normal, to reflect the current provisions around how long an advance notice will last. All advance notices will start with the usual 35 days’ duration, but the provisions in the emergency legislation that came into force on 6 April as part of the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020, will take effect when a new advance notice reaches 10 days to run (assuming the application record is still closed) so the advance notice will continue to be kept active beyond the usual 35 days, until 10 days after the application record reopens.
All current and re-enabled advance notices are now visible on ScotLIS.
For full details of how the digital solution for advance notices works and to watch a video demonstration, please visit the RoS website.
I am pleased to report that the portal for the submission of applications continues to operate successfully. We are currently accepting applications protected by advance notices with a start date up until 27 March 2020, and from Monday 18 May we will extend that date to 3 April 2020.
Previewing uploaded documents prior to submission is now possible. This will help customers to double check that they have uploaded the correct deed before submission. There is a feedback link at the top of every page which we encourage customers to use. Tell us about your experience using the new digital submission service, our team welcome feedback and ideas for improvement.
Once we have caught up with processing the pending applications that have already been settled under an advance notice, the digital application portal will be receiving new applications and the Land Register will be back to operating as close to normally as possible, but with a digital submission system instead of receiving paper applications. If we continue at the current rate, we expect to be up to date with the processing of these pending applications by the end of May 2020.
Whilst we are working through receiving and processing these applications, we will, in parallel, continue to offer a service to enable any applications which must proceed urgently, but which can’t settle under an advance notice and therefore need to be taken onto the application record in order for settlement to go ahead, to be taken on; so it remains the case that nothing urgent is precluded from settling during this catch-up period. To enquire about this please email email@example.com or phone 0800 169 9391
Please note there is no need to upload your application form with the deed to be registered. We have all of the information we need for registration from the alpha code you enter to begin the process.
The successful implementation of the digital submissions portal is part of my determined effort to ensure that I am not reliant on access to physical buildings in order to keep the application record open, as I do not want to ever have to temporarily close the application record again.
I have mentioned in previous updates the possibility of legislation to allow for electronic transmission/recording in registers other than the property registers. Provision has been included in the Coronavirus (Scotland) (No. 2) Bill, introduced on Monday 11 May, to that effect. If passed, this would ensure that those writs/documents which fall to be recorded in the Register of Inhibitions or the Register of Judgements, and are no already covered by Schedule 4 of the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020, will be covered to allow for electronic submission of documents or copies of documents for registration. The Bill includes a range of measures aimed at supporting businesses and citizens. More details about the Bill can be found on the Scottish Parliament website.
Reopening the application record
The successful launch of a digital system to enable the submission of applications and live deeds will be a significant step towards our being able to formally reopen the application record. The introduction of the digital submission service does not constitute or indicate the reopening of the application record. This will only happen when I am confident it is the right time to do so in consultation with the Law Society.
Law Society of Scotland
Throughout this process, we continue to work very closely with the Law Society to agree that our innovations, such as the digital solutions, are what their members and clients need to settle transactions.
Solicitors with any queries in respect of the Law Society guidance concerning the measures that are in place to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic should contact the Law Society’s Professional Practice team by email to discuss their case.
If customers are seeking to lodge applications in any of our other registers for which they would normally submit paper applications, please phone RoS customer services on 0800 169 9391 and we will arrange for you to be advised on what options are open to you.
Why it is important for RoS to remain open at this time
- To process those essential house moves and commercial property transactions that are permitted to take place under the terms of the current Government regulations
- To continue to process those transactions which don’t require physical moves, such as re-mortgages and some commercial property deals.
In line with ongoing guidance from Government and NHS Scotland, our buildings remain closed and all RoS staff who are able to work from home continue to do so.
Our Customer Service colleagues continue to deliver expert support and advice. As of noon on Friday 8 May I am happy to confirm that we have resolved all enquiries that are within RoS’ control. A small number of unresolved cases outwith RoS’ control are for solicitors to resolve on behalf of their clients.
I would like to take the opportunity to emphasise that, for any transaction which needs to proceed and which is not covered by the provisions outlined above, or for any registration service which you need and which you believe you cannot currently access, please do continue to contact RoS Customer Services. In many cases they will be able to solve the problem, or for the more unusual issues they will be able to arrange for one of our senior advisors to speak to you, and we will work with you to find a resolution to the issue.
We continue to update the RoS website with the latest guidance.
A bespoke email address firstname.lastname@example.org is available for general questions about RoS processes and procedures during the Covid-19 outbreak.
Please direct enquiries about specific property transactions and cases to:
Phone: 0800 169 9391
If there are is anything else you would like to bring to my attention during this period, please email FAO Jennifer Henderson: email@example.com
Jennifer Henderson, Keeper of the Registers of Scotland