Property logbooks next on list for home-buying reform

Rudolf: Logbooks must be regulated

The property logbook is the next initiative to be investigated as part of work to speed up the home-moving process, although lockdown has hit other projects.

The Home Buying & Selling Group (HBSG) – a stakeholder body of around 120 organisations advising the government – has set up a working party to look at the issue of property logbooks.

It follows on from the Hackitt report’s recommendation for a digital record for every building – what it called a “golden thread of information”.

Dame Judith Hackitt reported in 2018 on her independent review of building regulations and fire safety, set up in the wake of the Grenfell disaster.

The HBSG has been looking at how to provide this in a standard, secure way and how to incorporate it into the new online processes being developed by the property industry.

Four residential property logbook companies – Chimni, Etive, PIP and the National Deeds Depository, which were already HBSG participants – have been tasked with establishing a basis on which digital records of property information could be used for home buying and selling, as well as any other residential property related transaction.

Working party chair Nigel Walley, managing director of Chimni, said: “Property records are increasingly being digitized, which is a great opportunity to improve access and sharing of information.

“However, data is still highly fragmented and unevenly distributed, with no standardised way of sharing electronically or ensuring continuity of data between property transactions. We believe residential logbooks can deliver this.”

The group is looking at data standards, security and integration with the systems being built by other parts of the industry. Their remit includes recommending a process of regulation for logbook providers.

Existing HBSG projects include reservation agreements, designed to lock in buyer and seller financially to a transaction early on, and the Buying and Selling Property Information (BASPI) initiative – a move to present the buyer with a dossier of information at an early stage in the process.

Beth Rudolf, director of delivery at the Conveyancing Association and chair of the BASPI working party, said: “We know that instructing a property lawyer on listing and providing all information upfront results in average transaction times of just six to eight weeks in other parts of the UK.

“Making property logbooks the norm will make it incredibly straightforward for home-owners to collate and update information during their ownership. They must be regulated to avoid the same issues which we had at the beginning of the century with searches which was eradicated by the regulation brought in via the search code.”

Both BASPI and reservation agreements were due to be piloted at the point lockdown came into force. Speaking to Legal Futures earlier this month, Ms Rudolf said that while original plans for a large pilot of BASPI would have to be scaled back, a “small version” of the pilot could be trialled assuming the property market came back to life after lockdown.

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