Customers welcome digital solutions

I am sending you this update to outline how Registers of Scotland (RoS) continue to support businesses and customers in response to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) health crisis.

Key messages this month:

  • Please submit documents via the Digital Submissions Service if you have them available
  • More positive progress on Sasines
  • Proposed extension to emergency legislation

Digital Solutions

As most of you will be aware, during lockdown RoS successfully launched a number of digital innovations which have enabled submissions to be made to our registers and supported Scotland’s property market.

The vast majority of our customers are using the digital submissions process and their experience has been overwhelmingly positive.

Since week commencing Monday 23 March 2020, I am delighted to say there have been 82,977 deeds and 59,691 advance notices submitted for registration via our Digital Submission Service.

The volume of applications that have been successfully accepted via our digital services, along with the hugely positive reaction we have received from customers, reinforces for me how working collaboratively can help us achieve great things.

Reopening the application record

I would like to reassure you that our current plan remains that the application record will not be formally re-opened until at least six weeks after the government confirms that non-essential offices can reopen under Phase 3 of the route map to ease lockdown restrictions. We have agreed this with the Law Society of Scotland so that you can plan accordingly and have an opportunity to send us all existing application paperwork from your offices. This date is important as the record re-opening is the trigger point defined in the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 for advance notices in the system (that have not yet been replaced by an application) to start to expire after 10 days. This date will be communicated to you in advance.

If any of you have been able to source the relevant application paperwork safely then we would be very grateful if you can submit them to us via the digital submissions systems at the earliest opportunity rather than waiting until a later date. Your support in this matter will help us to manage volumes and to deliver the best possible service to you going forward.

If you need any support, guidance or reassurance about the digital submissions process then our Customer Services team are here to help:

Phone: 0800 169 9391

Email: customerservices@ros.gov.uk

Furthermore; if there is a particular reason why you cannot submit application paperwork, which you do have available to you, via the digital submission process; please do call Customers Services to discuss your issue as we would be keen to see if we can find a solution to enable you to get the application paperwork to us at the earliest opportunity.

Paper applications and documents

RoS buildings remain closed. This means we are unable to receive general mail, personal presentments from members of the public at the office or any couriers carrying non-Register of Deeds applications.

Any other applications to the following registers or services should continue to be made digitally using our new online systems.

  • Advance Notices
  • Land Registers
  • Register of Inhibitions
  • Register of Judgments

Register of Deeds (RoD)

 The Register of Deeds is open. You can send submissions to the RoD such as leases, wills or minutes of agreement using the two methods below.

Royal Mail PO Box

Register of Deeds
PO Box 24161
153 London Road
EDINBURGH
EH7 9FZ

DX Exchange courier network

Registers of Scotland
DX 555401
Edinburgh 15

Please use these details for RoD applications only. Non-RoD submissions will be returned to sender.

We can’t currently accept paper applications onto our registers, except for the Register of Deeds as described above. In addition, we aren’t currently able to source:

  • Extracts from any register
  • Duplicate plans
  • Burgh Register deeds

Extract orders will be placed on hold and processed when this service becomes available again. If you have an urgent request for an extract from any of our registers please contact the RoS Customer Services team.

We hold digitised sasine deeds from the mid-1870s and all copy deeds should continue to be ordered via our website.

For larger orders you can email customer services.

RoS service summary

As more of you return to work, I thought it would be useful to outline the current status of our main registers and highlight how you can access more information and support.

Please see below the summary of our services. If you have a complex or urgent application then we would recommend you continue to speak to one of our senior advisors for guidance: email customerservices@ros.gov.uk or phone 0800 169 9391.

Online systems

Emergency coronavirus legislation is in place that allows us to accept digital submissions in the following areas.

Land register

Advance notices

Register of Inhibitions and Register of Judgments

Sasines

I’m pleased to say that we can accept digital submissions of all types of deeds onto the General Register of Sasines, with the exception of assignations. Assignations tend to involve multiple securities at a time and they can give us operational challenges particularly where they go across different counties. To ensure we give you the best possible service it would be helpful to know in advance when assignations are coming in, so please contact your designated customer relationship manager or Customer Services in advance of submitting them to us.

Digital sasine submissions are the equivalent of what you would have previously posted to us in an envelope. You do not need to send us physical documents after submitting digitally. To use this service you’ll need:

  • an online services account
  • an active direct debit

To support you at this time we are tracking the typical customer errors that are made in submissions to any of our new digital systems and will be putting out guidance to help you prevent future errors.

See our website for the latest guidance and walk through videos

Business Services

You can access our existing online business services for

  • ScotLIS for business
  • Digital Discharge Service
  • Reports

Copies of our documents continue to be available via our website.

Contact the relevant business area or customer services

Use the hyperlinks below to be directed to the dedicated mailbox or customer service contact who will be able to help (customerservices@ros.gov.uk or phone: 0800 169 9391)

Temporary suspension of Planned Assistance Service (PAS)

As you may be aware PAS is not a statutory service and therefore, in order to prioritise available resource onto delivering statutory services, I took the decision to suspend new requests for this service and reallocate PAS colleagues onto supporting the delivery of my statutory duties (whilst, of course, ensuring that existing PAS work that customers had already commissioned us to undertake was completed).

Prior to lockdown I had identified the need to review PAS. I keep all our non-statutory services under review so I am continuously satisfied that they represent the most effective use of RoS resources and are an appropriate service to offer, usually in the context of being relevant in some way to supporting my broader public task. The PAS service has been used in many ways that we had not envisaged when we started it, and some of these uses are much wider than supporting voluntary registration for land register completion. It therefore seems appropriate to use the opportunity of the necessary suspension of the service to undertake a comprehensive review of the PAS service and consider if it is possible to relaunch an updated version of the service that is cost effective, meets the needs of our customers, and is aligned to the vision and values underpinning the delivery of our public task.

I appreciate that there is some frustration around the current inability to access the RoS PAS to support customers through the VR process however, as similar services are available on the market, I will continue the suspension of the service until we have completed our review and I am confident that any decision to restart the service will not compromise my ability to deliver my statutory services given the particular challenges we are all facing at this current time. I’m sure you can understand that any decisions about restarting PAS must be based on careful consideration of the circumstances within which we are operating.

I would very much appreciate your support in the review of this service and if you would be willing to take part, I would like to include your insights in the design of a revised service.

If you are interested in being part of this process you can contact us for more details.

Emergency legislation

The solutions we introduced to support customers during lockdown were underpinned by legislation in the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 and the Coronavirus (Scotland) (No.2) Act 2020. As some of the provisions made in these acts expire on 30 September 2020, ministers this month laid down regulations in parliament to extend the expiry date to 31 March 2021. MSPs will vote on the proposed extension later next month (September).

Transparency

As part of our firm commitment to being transparent and accountable RoS publishes a quarterly update on our key performance indicators. The latest figures can be found on the RoS website.

House Price Index

RoS data is used to produce the UK HPI, a National Statistic which gives in-depth, authoritative insight into house prices and transactions. During lockdown, the UK HPI was suspended but publication has restarted. The latest report and the publication schedule can be found on the RoS website.

Supporting our customers

The safety and wellbeing of everyone remains RoS’ number one priority and we continue to be guided by government advice. We are also doing everything in our power to support our customers, Scotland’s housing market and the wider economy. The digital solutions we have introduced are a cornerstone of that effort and we would ask you to continue to submit applications to us via the digital portals so that we can help you to serve your customers.

If you have any queries or require any support then please call Customer Services and we will be able to support you.

Contact us

A bespoke email address covid19enquiries@ros.gov.uk 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:

Email: customerservices@ros.gov.uk
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: rossecretariat@ros.gov.uk

Jennifer Henderson, Keeper of the Registers of Scotland

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