An industry expert today described the Government’s Access Guidelines for local authority data as, ‘finally offering a level playing field for all search providers’.
The Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) today outlined the Access Guidelines for local authorities, making the information needed to compile a property search available to third party property search companies.
The key points the guidelines made were that local authorities must make the data required to compile property searches available to “all those who ask”, and that data must be provided within 24 hours.
Commenting, Fiona Hoyle, Chairman of The Council of Property Search Organisations (CoPSO), the major trade association for the property search industry, said:
“For years, some local authorities have imposed severe restrictions on access to data but today’s announcement now creates a level playing field for all search providers. This will directly benefit consumers, who will have increased choice and faster conveyancing transactions. They will also have the comfort that the searches they are basing their property purchases on, whether compiled by local authorities or personal search companies, contain exactly the same information.”
But Ms. Hoyle insisted that it is essential the access guidelines are implemented promptly:
“It is imperative that local authorities act on the access guidelines announced today. They have come about as a direct result of local authorities abusing their position in terms of access to what is essential public information.”
The Guidelines will also positively impact personal search firms’ ability to deliver HIPs in a far more timely fashion, Ms. Hoyle explained:
“In some cases, HIPs have been taking longer than expected to compile. Private search firms have invested heavily in ensuring that their systems and staff were ready for the introduction of HIPs, but have been hamstrung by certain local authorities limiting access to data. The implementation of the Access Guidelines should see an end to this problem, with the consumer again benefiting.”