Homes and Communities Agency – Land Agency Restrictions and Charges
CALLING ALL PROPERTY LAWYERS – this article contains important information about how the homes and Communities Agency will deal with correspondence from firms and respond to applications for consents and discharges.
The Homes and Communities Agency is the Government’s housing, land and regeneration agency and is the successor organisation to a number of former bodies such as the regional development agencies, the Housing Corporation, Commission for the New Towns and the Urban Regeneration Agency (known as English Partnerships).
The Agency is often approached by legal firms acting for clients whose properties are affected by historic Land Registry charges or restrictions benefitting the Agency or one of its predecessor bodies.
The Agency currently receives applications from firms relating to historic charges and restrictions by telephone, email or post and matters are dealt with by exchange of correspondence. In order to streamline the application process to make the service more efficient for applicants, their advisers and the Agency, the Agency is introducing a web-based application system. When using this web based system, applicants (or their advisers) will answer a series of questions via an online application form and will be promoted to upload documents and all other information that the Agency will need to deal with the application.
It will also be possible to sue the online system to seek consent to building works/alterations where properties are subject to a covenant requiring the Agency’s approval.
The online application system can be found at https://consents.hca-online.org.uk
This new system will go live on 1st April 2017 and all applicants seeking consents and discharges from the Agency pursuant to historic restrictions and charges will be expected to use the new system from this date. Enquiries received from law firms in any other form will not be dealt with by the Agency and firms will be re-directed to the web-based system.
Please note that system relates to historic matters only and the current system for applying for other types of consents from the Agency will continue as usual (eg consents from the Regulator of Social Housing and consents pursuant to charges registered under affordable housing produce such as Help to Buy). Applicants will be redirected by the online system if it cannot be used for the consent or discharge which is being sought.
The HCA Legal Land Team will aim to contact applicants within 10 working days of an application being made. However, it is the firms’ sole responsibility to ensure that applications for consent or discharge are made in a timely manner and to ensure that they have all necessary consents before exchanging contracts or completing a sale or purchase. As at present, the Agency will not be liable for any losses that occur in this regard.