Swift, reliable access to clear information about the ownership, and rights or burdens affecting land, publicly available in one place is increasingly regarded as a key element of a modern, commercially focused society, and means that property transactions can be effected more easily, faster and cheaper.

With this aim in mind, the Land Registration etc (Scotland) Act 2012 introduces new triggers for first registration in the Land Register. One of these, voluntary registration, is already familiar to conveyancers, but a new concept – that of Keeper-induced registration (KIR) – is unfamiliar territory. A consultation published by Registers this month now provides us with some insight into how Registers expect KIR to apply, at least in the immediate future.

Shaken, not stirred

Left to its own devices, the property market, no matter how active, will not achieve the target of completion of the Land Register within 10 years. Something else is required to accelerate the progress towards this goal. KIR is a potentially powerful tool – allowing the Keeper to transfer a title onto the Land Register, without any action being taken by the landowner.

The consultation reports on the findings of KIR pilots conducted by Registers over the past few months, which concentrated on a mix of three property types:

  • RoS "research areas" (areas of land that split into several units of property sharing common burdens, such as residential developments);
  • heritage assets, e.g. properties owned by the National Trust for Scotland, where Registers worked with the organisations concerned; and
  • other property types (not in research areas) including residential and commercial property, farms and rural estates, but without any involvement of the property owner or their advisers.

No actual registrations were effected, other than a small number of heritage assets, including the island of St Kilda. The purpose of the pilot was to identify how easy or difficult it would be to register the different categories of property type, without reference to owners or their advisers, and the local information that they have, that is not evident from the title deeds alone.

Registers concludes that research areas are likely to be the most fruitful and successful source of property for KIR. With an estimated 700,000 unregistered properties located in research areas, this will make a significant dent in the 1.2 million unregistered properties that will need to be transferred from the Sasine Register to the Land Register. It intends therefore to focus KIR principally on those properties which are located in research areas, predominantly urban, where the occupational features are more easily determined, and a direct comparison with the title description is easier to achieve.

The consultation will run for 12 weeks, giving us until just before Christmas to consider the proposals and submit responses and suggestions. The report, proposals and how to respond are accessible from the Registers of Scotland website.