Message from the keeper
Monday 9 February marked two months since we introduced the 2012 Act. It has been a busy and fascinating time as we have tested and bedded in our new practices. Even with testing, model offices, workshops and practice runs, there is nothing quite like working in a 'live' environment to flush out any problems, and this was the reason for the grace period with rejection fees provided for by Scottish ministers in the Fee Order.
There have been teething problems on our side, as you would expect when you have been doing things one way for over 30 years. However, I've been impressed with how staff in this organisation have adapted - it was a big ask of them, and it was a big ask of our customers too. I realise that solicitors are used to regular change to meet new legislative requirements but it isn't always straightforward, and I want to express my appreciation for bearing with us as we adapted too. I think we are just about there and, while it might not feel like it to everyone, the rejection figures show that our customers are just about there too.
Since the designated day in December, we have seen a steady decline in the number of applications that have needed to be returned. We invested significant resource in the lead up to the designated day to minimise the issues that changing our and your practices would entail. This activity, coupled with changes post-designated day, saw the rejection figures drop to 6% by the end of last week. If this trend continues, rejection rates will soon be at or below pre-2012 Act levels. It's in our joint interests to reduce this figure further and we will continue to work with our customers to achieve this.
A snapshot from one day of rejections last week showed that the main reasons for rejected applications at intake were as follows:
|Application form not signed/completed||31|
|Error in deed or no deed provided||20|
|Incorrect fee (where payment is by cheque)||5|
|No SDLT certificate||4|
|No or wrong plan||4|
We also carry out a more comprehensive examination of FR and TP applications post the date the application enters the application record in order to establish any obvious issues with the deeds presented for registration. The main issues we encounter concern the plotting of the subjects onto the cadastral map; either the subjects conflict with a title that is already on the cadastral map, or we simply cannot plot the subjects on to it based on the current deed plan and/or conveyancing description. An appropriate plans report will highlight if there is a problem with respect to either of these issues. In terms of what to do should a report disclose either of these matters, please see our guidance.
Since the start of the year, 100% of legal reports have been completed within 24 hours.
Over 90% of plans reports have been completed within the same time frame, with almost all of the remainder having been done first thing the following day. This is in spite of the demand for plans reports doubling, and the turnaround time reducing from 72 hours to 24.
Defects in plans will fall foul of the one shot rule, so do make sure you get the appropriate plans report prior to application for registration, and action any results of the report before you apply. Our reports service identifies potential issues before registration, helping reduce the likelihood of rejection when the registration application is submitted. As a result, none of the applications that originated from one of our reports should, if appropriate steps are taken, result in rejection.
We recommend that you use direct debit to pay for our services. Not only do direct debit customers receive a daily statement detailing all applications received, but the statement is sent two working days before the funds leave your accounts, giving you time to transfer sufficient funds to the account, or query the payment with us. It can also work out cheaper for you, as you will only incur one bank charge for the total daily direct debit payment instead of a separate charge for each cheque presented.
More information about paying by direct debit is available on our website.
New search function
Following extensive customer research, we launched our new website in January in order to provide a user-friendly experience with improved navigation, search, and functionality throughout.
One of the features we focused on when we were developing the site was the search function, which is incredibly powerful. This is an excellent time-saving tool, and we recommend that you use this while you're getting to grips with the site's new layout.
Remember to bookmark any pages that you use regularly. You can also find where the page you're on is located on the site by looking at the breadcrumb trail at the top of the page above its heading.
For advice on the completion of applications, as well as general guidance on how to avoid rejections, call our dedicated application helpline on 0800 028 9311.