Many of us involved professionally in property in Portsmouth were surprised and disappointed to learn that Portsmouth City Council were 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. In the end the closure didn’t happen but it was only postponed and we’ve now been informed by Portsmouth City Council that it will in effect close for two weeks between Monday 9th and Monday 23rd November 2015.

As mentioned in my blog on this website back in May, the closure of the Local Land Charges service could have far reaching and significant effects on property transactions in the area and anyone wishing to complete a purchase during this period. The bottom line here is that we can expect there to be around two weeks added to the length of time it takes for the purchase of a property in Portsmouth,  if the process starts around or shortly before the 9th November. Indeed it’s often the case that the result of the local land charges search is the final confirmation needed for the remaining process to complete. This means that we can expect that many completions will not now happen during this two week period and such delay will be bad news for affected vendors who will not want to see their buyers put off course in any way or indeed buyers who are part of a chain where timing may be critical.

I appreciate that systems need to be upgraded in order to move with the times and staff training is also important and with major changes some disruption is perhaps inevitable. However, whilst we appreciate getting the ‘heads up’ on this from Portsmouth City Council, what would have been even more welcome would have been a meeting where a better understanding for the necessity of these measures could have been developed and ‘workarounds’ or alternative options and mitigating measures could have been explored.

I have raised these points again with Portsmouth City Council and continue to await a response.

If you are involved in a property transaction that may be affected by this closure and you have concerns then you should raise these with your legal representative as soon as possible. For those property professionals who are concerned about it then please contact the Portsmouth Property Association who are monitoring the situation or drop me a line directly.