If there are terms or restrictive covenants in a  lease that will make a material difference to your decision on whether or not to buy, wouldn’t you rather know about them sooner rather than later?

Hopefully new data shared by the Land Registry since August will make the information available at the very start of your buying journey.

The Land Registry also laid down the gauntlet to the listings giants like Rightmove and Zoopla to see how they can use the data for the benefit of homebuyers.

They have been criticised for failing to compel sellers and their agents to disclose tenure and basic lease details when listing properties for purchase.

The need for greater transparency and awareness was highlighted in September when Britain’s competition regulator announced that it has launched an investigation into the UK’s four largest housebuilders over the sale of leasehold contracts that double the ground rent every decade.

It’s potentially good news for people trapped in leasehold houses they say are unsellable because of potentially-punitive escalation of ground rents, and where buying freeholds is proving a lot more expensive and difficult than they were led to expect.

It’s an issue which continues to be horribly stressful for thousands of buyers of leasehold houses. The vast majority of leaseholders live in blocks of flats and, while ground rents have undoubtedly changed in nature from the ‘peppercorn’ few ££s of yesteryear, new flats seem to have escaped these noxious doubling clauses.

However, might there still be problems in store for you, buried in the legalese of the lease?  The Land Registry’s move should help to avoid nasty surprises.

The two new databases, which detail some 17 million restrictive covenants, amongst other key details including date of lease and duration. They are free to access for personal use and research purposes, but require an account and acceptance of the terms and conditions.

Announcing the availability of the data, Dr Andrew Trigg, acting director of digital, data and technology at HM Land Registry, said:  “We know that there’s appetite and utility for this information in property related industries and look forward to seeing how it can positively impact the conveyancing process. Beyond this, we’re intrigued to see what novel innovations find their way out of the UK’s burgeoning PropTech space to make their mark on our digital economy.”

FP1250 -2020 (Reviewed 12 April 2022)

The sole purpose of this article is to provide guidance on the issues covered. This article is not intended to give legal advice, and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and/or market practice in this area. We make no claims as to the completeness or accuracy of the information contained herein or in the links which were live at the date of publication. You should not act upon (or should refrain from acting upon) information in this publication without first seeking specific legal and/or specialist advice. Arthur J. Gallagher Insurance Brokers Limited trading as Deacon accepts no liability for any inaccuracy, omission or mistake in this publication, nor will we be responsible for any loss which may be suffered as a result of any person relying on the information contained herein.

Reviewed 23/06/2023- NR