Closure of the Sasine Register: what does this mean to you?

Background
It is the political aim of the Scottish Parliament to complete the transfer of all properties in Scotland onto the modern Land Register which itself was fundamentally changed by an Act of 2012.

Accordingly, the changes and costs described in this note relate only to the political decision made by the Scottish Parliament. It does not relate to any action by your old lender, your new lender or ourselves.

Regrettably, as in many other areas of constantly changing regulation, the only person to whom you can complain is your MSP as this is entirely a Scottish legal change and is nothing to do with the UK Parliament or the European Parliament.


Why does this affect you?
If you are being referred to this page then you will have a title which is currently within the 400-year-old Sasine Register. Approximately 8-9% of properties in Scotland remain on this old Sasine Register.

Up until December 2014 properties only required to transfer to the Land Register when a sale of the property for value triggered "first registration" within the Land Register. There was a rolling process of extending the land register from 1981 until the early 2000s but for over 10 years all of Scotland has been subject to the Land Register.

After December 2014 when the Land Registration Etc (Scotland) Act 2012 came into force any transfer of the property even where there was no value induced first registration for a property within the Sasine Register. From 1 April 2016 even and remortgage will induce a first registration of the property.

The search that we will have obtained will have indicated that your property remains within the Sasine register and accordingly for the remortgage to continue, you will need to accept that a first registration of your property will be required.


What does "first registration" actually mean?
In very basic terms it means that the record of your title transfers from the old Sasine register which you could imagine as dusty old deeds to the modern Land Register which is essentially an electronic logbook for the property based upon a map confusingly called a "cadastral map" (a European term) when the actual Ordnance Survey maps on which the system is based are rather outdated.

Nevertheless, these are the tools that we have and the 2012 Act substantially changed the "entrance" requirements to be accepted on the Land Register. Part of these "entrance" requirements was to introduce a number of tests against which the existing title to the property would be subject. If those tests could not be "passed" then corrective conveyancing or other work would be necessary to resolve the problem.

If you look through our other news items and MMiExplains you will see that this process has been far from straightforward and has created a great deal of concern amongst the legal profession in Scotland. Part of that concern is that the new 2012 Land Register is overly technical and quite unsuitable for the requirements of our time. Additionally, there are absolutely no benefits to the end user at this point; this is simply a political objective as well as one ultimately to save expense for the Land Register.

Indeed, as you will see now the result for the end user is additional cost and, in the context of a remortgage, delay. The benefit, that can be taken from undergoing this process at this time, is that it will not require to be dealt with when the remortgage customer eventually sells the property. Any hurdles involved in the process would require to have been dealt with at that time as the law currently stands.

At McVey and Murricane, we recognise that this is not an overly fair position in which an, admittedly small, percentage of remortgage customers find themselves. Because of that, our class leading technology and our prominent position as solicitors dealing with lending we are able to limit the additional costs of this process which is effectively the same as the conveyancing involved in purchasing the property.

Our additional fee for dealing with the transfer to the Land Register will be as indicated in the guide to additional charges supplied to you. That amount will be subject to there being no complications. In addition, there are additional costs in obtaining what is referred to as a "Plans Report". The Plans Report" lets us know in superficial terms whether any problems are anticipated in transferring the property from the Sasine register to the 2012 Land Register. The cost of the Plans Report and interpretation is £84.


Can anything go wrong?
Our aim is to be transparent with you and the blunt answer is "yes" things can go wrong without there being any fault attached to us, the solicitors who acted view in the purchase of the property or anybody else. As stated above this is an exceptionally technical process and as with all very technical processes, it is relatively easy for there to be a problem. We have very considerable experience in the operation of the new Land Register and accordingly we are able to minimise problems but not exclude them. Our estimate is that issues will arise in between 20-35% of cases very much depending upon the property involved and the nature of the original title.

When a problem arises there will generally be ways of dealing with it often by obtaining a new plan. Whatever the problem, we will not proceed with dealing with the issue until we have advised you of any additional costs and obtaining your confirmation to proceed.

Often the first reaction of somebody faced with these problems is that "someone must be to blame". That is possible but in the overwhelming majority of cases it is simply that the new system is so overly technical that the "entrance requirements" have not been met.


Will the remortgage be delayed?
Yes. You should anticipate an additional 14 days even if everything proceeds satisfactorily. If problems are encountered, then it is impossible to assess time limits generally but we will try to give you some idea when we describe the problem to you.


Summary
As you will appreciate from this note, this is a challenging process, which, in our view, reflects a triumph of political aims over the reality of the existing land register coupled with an overambitious piece of legislation inappropriate to the needs of a modern conveyancing system. It is, however, the law and your lender cannot obtain a satisfactory new mortgage over the property without this process being resolved. All lenders are faced with the same challenges.

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