Fee review 2020 - Consultation paper


Responding to this paper

You can submit responses to this consultation paper on the Scottish Government's consultation hub.


Background

  1. Registers of Scotland (RoS) is a Scottish public body headed by the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland, who is a non-ministerial office-holder in the Scottish Administration and the Chief Executive of RoS. RoS' functions are to maintain the public registers for which the Keeper is statutorily responsible and make the information they contain publicly available.
  2. Further information on how RoS operates is set out in its framework document.

Fee review

  1. RoS income is generated from charging fees for both statutory and non-statutory activity. Statutory activity is set out in legislation, primarily registering deeds and writs, but also includes copies and extracts of registrations. Non-statutory activity includes the provision of information services and products based on the data held in the registers.
  2. Fees have remained unchanged since 2011, with minor exceptions. In 2015, reduced fees were introduced to encourage movement of properties from the Sasines Register to the Land Register: a reduction for voluntary registration was introduced, and where a standard security was being registered this attracted only the standard security rather than the transfer fee. In October 2020, a £10 increase has taken effect as a response to the impact of the current health emergency on the housing market and consequent income from registration.
  3. We mentioned in our corporate plan 2020-25 that we would consider measures to bring us into a cost neutral position. One of these was whether our current fees need to increase as we have not increased our registration fees since 2011. We will continue to review our fees on an annual basis to ensure that we recover our costs.
  4. The cost to the Keeper of the average employee has risen by 30% since the fees were last increased in 2011. Efficiency improvements in systems and processes have enabled these increases to be managed within the existing fees until now. However, our current forecasts of future income and expenditure show that we need to increase fees if we are to recover our costs over the next five years.

Impact of Coronavirus crisis

  1. The full financial impact of the lockdown necessitated by the Coronavirus pandemic is not yet known, but RoS’ predictions anticipate that there will be at least some impact on the housing market and therefore RoS’ revenues. Registration fees generated by transfers of property generate approximately 90% of RoS’ revenue. Applications to the Land Register are currently predicted to be between 25% lower and 60% lower for the remainder of the financial year with other registers similarly affected. The hiatus in the housing market and its ongoing recovery is not something that RoS can influence directly.
  2. RoS has introduced significant technological and business changes to minimise the impact of the lockdown on the housing market and maximise its ability to continue to generate revenue during the crisis. RoS reviewed and implemented where possible all opportunities to manage income and expenditure.
  3. The combination of increased staff costs, the investment required to develop new modern systems of registration and the downturn in the market following the Coronavirus pandemic taken together mean the time is right to ensure that statutory fees reflect RoS’ costs.

Statutory fees

  1. The current legislative bases on which registration fees are charged are provided for in The Registers of Scotland (Fees) Order 2014 (the 2014 Order) as revised by The Registers of Scotland (Voluntary Registration, Amendment of Fees, etc.) Order 2015 both of which are made under the powers in section 110 of the Land Registration etc. (Scotland) Act 2012.

Power to vary fees by £10

  1. Scottish Ministers have been consulted on the Keeper exercising her power to raise statutory fees by £10 which she is able to do when necessary to prevent material damage to RoS’ financial position; and when that damage arises from conditions which cannot be otherwise mitigated by the Keeper taking other action. This power can be found in article 4 of the 2014 Order. This increase will affect most statutory fees and came into effect on Monday 5 October 2020.
  2. Rejection fees, fees for searches and copy deeds, and fees for registration in the Crofting Register and the Register of Community Interests in Land will not be affected by the £10 increase. Find out more.

Proposed new statutory fee structure

  1. The proposed fees are based on the following assumptions and are set out in Annex A:
    1. Registration intakes at best returning to 90% of pre-Covid levels in the financial year 2021-2022
    2. RoS achieving optimal efficiency savings
  2. The Scottish Public Finance Manual sets out that the standard approach for setting charges and fees is full cost recovery (including services provided by one public sector organisation to another). It normally means recovering 3.5% return on capital. Based on the above assumptions, the proposed fee review would result in a slightly smaller return on capital, but we expect that RoS would return to being a net contributor in the following years.

Rejection fees

  1. Rejection fees will be removed in the future. The cost of administering a rejection accounted for most of the £30 rejection fee, but these costs have fallen substantially following the opening of the digital submission service thus removing costs associated with scanning, handling and posting physical deeds.

Registration fees

  1. As before, we propose maintaining no differential between the fees for a First Registration (FR) of a property onto the Land Register, a Dealing with Whole (DW) of a property already on the Land Register, and a Transfer of Part (TP) of part of a property on the Land Register.
  2. The policy aim is to protect customers from the higher costs involved in registering in the Land Register for the first time, FRs remain a significant portion of our intake onto the Land Register, and the parity of fees reflects the fact that all titles registered in the Land Register benefit from a state-backed warranty, except in exceptional circumstances.
  3. The fees for voluntary registrations will continue to be lower than that of standard registration fees.
  4. We propose to retain the ability to vary statutory fees by an amount not exceeding £10. As is the current position, any increases would be made only to mitigate against any material damage to RoS’ financial position from factors outwith its control.
  5. Fees for the Crofting Register and the Register of Community of Interests in Land will remain unchanged.

Registration through digital submissions systems

  1. Deeds presented for registration through RoS’ digital registration systems continue to be lower than standard registration fees. Registration fees for discharges created using the digital discharge service will remain at £60, as against a proposed fee of £80 for registration of discharges.

    Fees for information, copy deeds and searches

    1. The proposed fees for our information and copy deeds and searches are also set out in Annex A of this consultation.
    2. We don’t intend to make any changes to the fees we charge for providing information through Registers of Scotland online system.
    3. The fees we currently charge for copy deeds and searches do not fully cover our costs. Whilst we are maximising efficiencies to reduce costs were possible, we intend to increase our fees for Copy Deeds and searches to cover our costs.

      Conclusion

      1. RoS is expected to meet its own operating costs from the fees it charges and not be funded by general taxation. Given however the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic it is very likely that RoS will require to make a significant drawdown on the Scottish Consolidated Fund for the financial year 2020-2021.
      2. Whilst the impact of the health crisis is yet to be determined, should a) the market recover to 90% of its pre-crisis level and b) the proposed fee structure be brought into force in 2021, RoS will return to operation on a cost-recovery basis during 2021-2022 whilst returning a small surplus required for investment in future products and services for future years.
      3. Such an increase will enable RoS to continue to meet its statutory functions and continue to invest and develop as set out in our Corporate Plan.
      4. RoS will continue to review its fees on an annual basis and will consult publicly should further rises be required.
      5. RoS is committed to consulting its customers on any changes affecting the provisions of its services. All responses received by the end of the consultation period will be considered by Scottish Ministers prior to their completing a new Fees Order and laying it before the Scottish Parliament. It is anticipated that any change in the fees that RoS charge will come in to force next year.

      Annex A

      This annex refers to the parts in schedule 1 of the 2014 Order

      Parts 1, 2 & 3 - The Land Register and the Register of Sasines

      Table of proposed land and sasine register fees

      Consideration paid or value £

      Fee £

      Voluntary registration fee £

      Not exceeding 50,000 80 60
      Not exceeding 100,000 140 110
      Not exceeding 150,000 260 200
      Not exceeding 200,000 400 300
      Not exceeding 300,000 530 400
      Not exceeding 500,000 660 500
      Not exceeding 700,000 800 600
      Not exceeding 1,000,000 930 700
      Not exceeding 2,000,000 1,100 830
      Not exceeding 3,000,000 3,300 2,480
      Not exceeding 5,000,000 5,500 4,130
      Exceeding 5,000,000 8,250 6,190

      Heritable Securities

      Where an application is made for registration in respect of a heritable security, including the constitution, transfer, variation, postponement, corroboration or extinction of a security, the fee will rise from £70 to £80 for each title sheet affected; or where an application may be, and is, made using the digital discharge system, remain at £60 for each title sheet affected.

      Related fees and services

      Where an application is rejected under section 21(3) of the Act; or withdrawn under section 34(1)(a) of the Act, the fee will be £0.

      In respect of an application for an advance notice under section 57(1) of the Act; or a discharge of an advance notice under section 63(1) of the Act, the fee will remain at £20.

      In respect of an application to make an entry in, or remove an entry from, a title sheet, where an order is granted by the court under section 67(3) of the Act, for warrant to place a caveat on a title sheet; section 69(2) of the Act, for warrant to renew a caveat; section 70(2) of the Act to restrict a caveat; or section 71(2) of the Act, to recall a caveat; or where, under section 72 of the Act, a person discharges a caveat, the fee will be increased from £70 to £80.

      Where an application is received in respect of a registered plot of land, to request the Keeper to vary warranty under section 76(2) of the Act, the fee will be increased from £70 to £80.

      Recording by memorandum

      Where any writ is presented in the Register of Sasines for recording by memorandum, the fee will be increased from £70 to £80 for each memorandum.

      Additional extract or plain copy

      Where a deed is being recorded, in respect of an additional extract or plain copy requested at the date of the application for recording, the fee will remain at £20 plus VAT.

      Other deeds

      Where an application for registration is made under section 21 of the Act, or for recording in the Register of Sasines, of other deeds not referred to above, the fee will be increased from £70 at present to £80 for each title sheet affected or each deed recorded.

      Dual registration

      Where an application for registration under section 21 of the Act or for recording a deed in the Register of Sasines comprises an application for dual registration or an application for variation of a title condition and no fee is provided in respect of such application in Parts 1 and 2 in schedule 1 of the 2014 Order, the fee will be increased from £70 to £80 in respect of that application plus £80 for every title sheet other than the first affected by that application and for each deed recorded.

      Part 4 - The Chancery and Judicial Registers

      Proposed chancery and judicial register fees

      Register

      Product or service

      Fee

      Register of Inhibitions For each document £25
      Register of Deeds and Probative Writs in the Books of Council and Session For each document (including first extract) £20
      Register of Protests For each document (including first extract) £20
      Register of Judgments For each document (including first extract) £20
      Register of the Great Seal For a charter of incorporation £260
      For a Commission £640
      Register of the Cachet Seal For each impression £40
      Register of the Quarter Seal For each gift of ultimus haeres or bona vacantia £140
      All When a document is being registered, an additional extract or plain copy requested at the date of the application for registration £20 plus VAT
      None For each certificate issued under the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Act 1982 £40*

      *This figure had previously been incorrectly stated as £20 and has now been updated.

      Parts 5 & 6 - Crofting Register and Register of Community Interests in Land

      There is no proposal to increase these fees.

      Part 7 - Fees for access to a register under the management and control of the Keeper and information made available by the Keeper

      Proposed fees for accessing registers

      Register

      Product or service

      Fee

      Land Register and Register of Sasines Search conducted by the Keeper on behalf of a person over one full address including postcode, per result (including one plain copy), including nil return £30 plus VAT
      All registers under the management and control of the Keeper Search conducted by a person through the Registers of Scotland online system (including one title sheet) £3 plus VAT
      Registers under the management and control of the Keeper (under exception on the Land Register and Register of Sasines) Request for inspection of a register in respect of one entry (including response) £30 plus VAT
      Land Register Extract of:
      • Title sheet and part of the cadastral map
      • Title sheet
      • Part of a title sheet
      • Part of cadastral map
      • Document from the archive record
      • Part of document from the archive record
      • Application
      • Advance notice
      • Document in the application record
      • Part of document in application record
      Certified copy of:
      • Application
      • Advance notice
      • Document in the application record
      • Part of document in application record
      £35 plus VAT
      Land Register Plain copy of:
      • Title sheet and part of the cadastral map
      • Title sheet
      • Part of a title sheet
      • Part of cadastral map
      • Document from the archive record
      • Part of document from the archive record
      • Application
      • Advance notice
      • Document in the application record
      • Part of document in application record

      £25 plus VAT

      Register of Sasines Extract of recorded deed £35 plus VAT
      Register of Sasines Plain copy of recorded deed £25 plus VAT
      Register of Judgments, Register of Deeds and Register of Protests Extract of registered deed £35 plus VAT
      Register of Inhibitions, Register of Judgments, Register of Deeds and Register of Protests Plain copy of registered deed £25 plus VAT
      Crofting Register
      • Office copy of a registration schedule of a   croft, common grazing or land held runrig
      • Information provided by the Keeper regarding the   suitability of an applicant’s map for registration purposes in the Crofting   Register
      £35 plus VAT
      Crofting Register
      • Plain copy of a registration schedule of a croft,   common grazing or land held runrig
      • Copy of an Ordnance Survey map supplied for the   purpose of registration in the Crofting Register
      £25 plus VAT
      Register of Community Interests in Land
      • Extract of registration
      • Plan (colour)
      £35 plus VAT
      Register of Community Interests in Land
      • Plain copy of registration
      • Plan (black and white)
      £25 plus VAT

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