As of the first week of January, HM Land Registry announced that it had launched a pilot scheme in collaboration with 10 mortgage lenders (who represent 85% of UK residential mortgage lending) in an effort to reduce progress chasing on pending mortgage applications.

Prior to this, the only way for a lender to check on the status of any pending application to register their mortgage security was by liaising with the relevant conveyancer or lawyer who acted in the matter or otherwise ringing the Land Registry directly. There is no doubt that this adds to workloads, reduces efficiencies and increases costs for all involved, with Mike Harlow – Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Customer and Strategy at HM Land Registry stating that "This should save the industry millions of pounds a year and give time back to conveyancers".

Under the new streamlined process, a lender needs to ensure that their 'MD reference' – a lender's unique reference – is entered onto any application that is lodged. If the MD reference is listed, this will ensure it appears as part of a weekly update that will be sent to each lender in respect of all of their pending applications.

Whilst the process remains in pilot stage and has limited reach at the moment, it is hoped that if this trial is successful, it will be rolled out more widely to other lenders who currently have MD references. It will be interesting to see how this develops in relation to lenders who currently do not have an MD reference, and whether this scheme will encourage those lenders to consider obtaining one.

This article was also authored by Grace McGuigan, Trainee Solicitor at Womble Bond Dickinson.