We were disappointed to discover that Portsmouth City Council are planning to close their local authority searches and local land charges service for just short of 3 weeks from 29th May until 15th June 2015 whilst they upgrade their system and conduct related training.
The announcement was made on Portsmouth City Councils Local Land Charges web pages but with insufficient warning to those working in the Portsmouth property market. A three week closure of a Local Land Charges service could have far reaching and significant effects on conveyancing transactions in the area and anyone wishing to complete a purchase during this period.
We have contacted Portsmouth City Councils’ solicitors to ask why this closure was necessary as it will cause considerable disruption and uncertainty and whether there might be measures that could be taken to mitigate these.
This approach was made on the basis of two very important factors.
1. The Local Land Charges Act 1974 and the Rules of 1977 state that a Local Authority must maintain the register and make it available for public inspection. It is difficult to see how this closure meets with the letter or the spirit of the law.
2. This closure will effectively close the housing market in the City for a significant period and cannot be described as helpful to the Portsmouth economy.
So far the Council has not provided answers to these points.