The Council of Property Search Organisations (CoPSO), the major trade association for the property search industry, has today hit out at Government plans giving councils new powers to charge for providing public information on properties. The group has described the implementation of the powers as “ill thought through” and “unrealistic”.
Parliament this week debated regulations that allow local authorities to charge more for property search records. However, the Government has neglected to publish the accompanying guidance that advises councils how to use their new powers, saying that it will only do so once the regulations come into force. As a result, property search companies will be left completely blind as to what new charges they will face from local authorities once the regulations come into force.
Mervyn Pilley, CoPSO Chief Executive, comments:
“The lack of guidance means that we can’t even begin to understand what these regulations will mean for our industry. What councils can do and what councils will do are two very different things. That is why we have guidance in the first place. The whole approach is ill thought through to say the least.
“All we do know is that the Government’s whole approach to the twin issues of charging and access has been unrealistic to say the least. We have the charging, but nothing has been done to guarantee access. These latest changes will do nothing to ensure that property search companies are able to offer their customers the best product possible, whilst expecting them to pay for information that is held in their name in the first place.
“It’s bad enough that we have to deal with a complete lack of reality about the way councils behave; at the very least you would hope that the Government would give us a chance to prepare for the changes. How is that possible when we have no idea whatsoever of how they will be implemented and what councils will charge?”