HM Land Registry makes changes to identity verification and signing deeds amid coronavirus (COVID-19)

HM Land Registry makes changes to identity verification and signing deeds amid coronavirus (COVID-19)

HM Land Registry (HMLR) has announced new updates to a variety of its practices, procedures and requirements in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Temporary changes will be introduced regarding the process for verifying a person’s identity and signing deeds.

As of 4 May 2020, HMLR has introduced temporary changes when verifying a person’s identity and for signing deeds.

Practice guide 67 and 67A

Practice guide 67 (PG67)—aimed at conveyancers—details when evidence of identity is required and how it should be given. However, the issuance of practice guide 67A (PG67A) introduces temporary changes to the identity verification processes so that conveyances be carried out amid the pandemic. The PG67A explains who can verify a person’s identity for land registration purposes in addition to those normally allowed, and that HMLR will accept verification of identity via video call. It refers to three new identity forms.

Verification can now be undertaken by people who have previously worked or currently work as bank officials, medical doctors, teachers and UK civil servants of senior executive officer grade or above, among many others. The full list can be seen here.

HMLR highlighted that the PG67A may be modified or withdrawn at short notice.

PG67A must be read in conjunction with PG67.

Practice guide 8

HMLR has also updated practice guide 8 (PG8) and confirmed that deeds will be accepted using the ‘Mercury signing approach’, meaning that for land registration purposes, a signature page will need to be signed in pen and witnessed in person (not by a video call). The signature will then need to be photographed or scanned to produce a JPEG, PDF or other suitable copy of the signed signature page. Each party will then be required to send a single email to their conveyancer to which is attached the final agreed copy of the document and the copy of the signed signature page.

Directions under the Land Registration Act 2002 (LRA 2002)

Direction 2 under the LRA 2002, which stipulates that where evidence of identity is required by forms AP1, DS2 or FR1 to be produced to the registrar, it must be in the relevant form and in accordance with PG67, has been amended as a result of the temporary change of practice and the introduction of three new forms. Compliance with PG67A is now also required.

Certificate of identity for a body corporate (ID4)

Corporate bodies which are unable to have their identity verified by a practicing conveyancer have been advised to use form ID4 when sending one of the following applications to HM Land Registry:

• transfers (whether or not for value)

• transfers and deeds relating to the appointment or retirement of trustees

• leases (whether or not for value) that are being registered

• charges (mortgages) that are being registered

• discharge of a charge in form DS1

• release of a charge in form DS3

• surrenders of leases

• most voluntary and compulsory applications for first registration where the title deeds have been lost or destroyed

• all other applications for compulsory first registration

• any person who is a party to one of the above transactions who is not represented by a conveyancer

The ID4 form does not need to be completed if the value of the land involved in the disposal does not exceed £6,000.

The ID4 form can only be used if both you and the person verifying your identity hold a full UK passport and the verifier has known you for at least one year.

Change the register (AP1)

Panel 12 of application form AP1, which concerns confirmation of identity for registering dispositions of land, has also been amended to reflect the changes to PG67 and introduction of PG67A.

Certificate to be given by a conveyancer where a person’s identity has been verified by an online video call (ID5)

It has also been announced that conveyancers must complete application form ID5 with form ID1 or form ID2 where they are verifying a person's identity by way of a video meeting.

Cancel entries relating to a change: registration (DS2)

Panel 8 of application form DS2, which concerns confirmation of identity when giving effect to a discharge of a registered charge, has also been amended to reflect the introduction of PG67A.

HM Land Registry forms

Forms ID3, ID4 and ID5 can be found here.

Source: Changes to identity verification and signing deeds

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