Electronic signatures now allowed for residential property transactions

July 31st 2020

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As the country continues to react to the ‘new normal’ and a potential further period of lockdown amid the possibility of a second wave of coronavirus, many transactions previously carried out by solicitors have needed to be amended in the face of an extended period of social distancing. We have recently seen this with a more streamlined probate service and a move towards video witnessing of wills.

With the property market perhaps affected as much as any other by the pandemic, it is essential that the process remains as smooth as possible to avoid unnecessary delays that increase the risk of property transactions falling through. The government have recently announced some measures aimed at both keeping the industry moving and protecting it for the future.

Towards an Electronic Conveyancing Process 

This week HM Land Registry has made a significant move towards allowing the conveyancing process to take place electronically by accepting witnessed signatures for several transactions including transfers of property ownership, leases, and mortgages.

Clients will still be able to physically sign documents in the presence of a witness if they wish, but it is hoped that removing the need to sign and return the signature page will pave the way for a more streamlined process.

A new online platform has been created where conveyancers will will upload documents to be electronically signed in the presence of a witness. The conveyancer will receive notification as soon as the document has been signed and can submit a completed deed to the Land Registry immediately.

Speeding up the Process

For those either selling or purchasing property, delays caused by the need to physically sign documents can cause frustration and put transactions in jeopardy. This new measure reduces the risk and will create a more streamlined process for clients.

David Inch, Head of Residential Property at Spratt Endicott Solicitors, said of the development “ We are always looking at ways in which we can make the conveyancing process easier for our clients. The changes introduced by HM Land Registry will make it easier to obtain signatures to documents that they do not physically have in their possession, and this should help speed up their transaction in such cases.”

Next Steps

Spratt Endicott’s award-winning Residential Property practice assists clients nationwide with house purchases, sales, remortgages, and transfers of equity from their offices in Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire, and Buckinghamshire. To discuss any matters raised in this article or how this may affect your residential property transaction please contact enquiries@se-solicitors.co.uk

*Disclaimer: While everything has been done to ensure the accuracy of the contents of this article, it is a general guide only. It is not comprehensive and does not constitute legal advice. Specific legal advice should be sought in relation to the particular facts of a given situation. The information is accurate at date of publication, 25th of June 2020 .