The registration of applications at HM Land Registry are changing. Bronwyn Townsend, Senior Marketing Manager at InfoTrack, looks at what firms will need to do before the end of the year.

We’re six months from the deadline when HM Land Registry will be mandating that most register applications need to be submitted digitally. The process will require preparation from law firms to ensure they have the systems in place to enable the switch to be as seamless as possible.

HMLR have made the decision with the aim of making the AP1 process quicker and easier. However, the transition period will see firms needing to familiarise themselves with the changes and how to get the most out of digital AP1s. So, what are the five key things firms need to know?

1 Paper forms are ending

From November 2022, paper forms for applications to change the register will, in most cases, no longer exist. In January 2022, approximately 80% of the conveyancing industry were still submitting some variation of paper form, even if they are ‘electronic’, such as an uploaded PDF. The new digital process will no longer enable this.

Instead, firms will need to switch to a new digital process using a dedicated portal. You can choose to use HM Land Registry’s Digital Registration System (DRS) directly or use a third-party integrated supplier that provides access via the business gateway.

2 You’ll need to understand validations

To minimise errors and streamline the process, HM Land Registry have introduced validations to ensure the right information is entered into the right place on the form. This helps the HMLR caseworker to process the application quickly and with minimal questions, with the goal of reducing the chance of requisitions.

This is a new process that didn’t exist with paper forms. If information is incomplete or incorrect when submitted, it results in a requisition being raised by the HMLR caseworker. The validations have been introduced by HMLR to minimise these issues.

If you don’t understand the validations in the digital systems, it may delay your submissions and cause more requisitions, overall slowing down processing. Prepare by ensuring you’re familiar with the standard requirements and necessary validations in the digital platforms.

3 Evaluate your requisition management process

Requisitions are a common pain point for law firms; however, they are an important part of the AP1 process, designed to ensure the information provided is accurate. We can’t remove requisitions, but the way you manage them can be easier.

Managing and tracking requisitions is a time-consuming and complex process. If you’re using a manual process, this carries an increased risk of missing deadlines. As you move to digital AP1s you’ll also be required to change how your requisitions are managed.

Finding a digital solution for tracking all submissions and expiring priorities, as well as requisitions will have a significant impact on the efficiency of your post-completion team and should minimise cancellations. Some third-party providers offer a management system within their digital AP1 solution.

4 Evaluate your AP1 draft and approval process

The post-completion process may involve different people to internally managing different stages of the transaction, from the role of drafting, to reviewing, and ultimately submitting applications. The move to digital AP1s will likely require some attention around how you manage this.

Currently, HMLR’s system doesn’t allow multiple users with different logins to review the same applications. Firms are going to need to work out how to review applications made online, while ensuring they don’t duplicate or lose data, which can cause serious delays. Again, some third-party systems can support this draft, review, and submission process.

5 Start training now

At InfoTrack, we believe this new system for digital AP1s will improve the accuracy of submissions, help reduce requisitions, and speed up the process. Our top tip is to be prepared and get ahead of the deadline. To prepare for the migration and working with the new systems, get your new processes in place early and start training as soon as you can to avoid teething issues at in November.