People urged to submit local land charges searches as soon as possible when buying a property
Wiltshire Council is asking solicitors, agents and members of the public to issue requests for local land charges searches as soon as possible in the process when purchasing a property.
The council's land charges team is dealing with high volumes of requests, which are exacerbated by some searches being left too late in the house-purchasing process.
Cllr Toby Sturgis, Cabinet Member for Planning, said: "Our officers are working incredibly hard to deal with the huge volume of land searches requests we have received in recent weeks due to the increase in property purchases, thanks to the temporarily reduced stamp duty rates.
"However, due to COVID restrictions to keep our staff safe, the time that they can visit our hubs to check physical records has been dramatically reduced. This, coupled with the increase in demand, has slowed the process somewhat.
"We don't want to hold up the process for anyone, or prevent anyone's property purchase from going as smoothly as possible, which is why we're asking people to submit their land searches as soon as possible during the purchasing process.
"There have been some instances of our teams being given a day or two to complete the process; this only causes delays for other customers further down the line and doesn't help to alleviate the problem.
"I'd like to pay testament to our officers, who are working round the clock to process searches as quickly as they can in difficult circumstances, and I'd ask that solicitors, agents and the public to submit local land charges searches as early as possible, to help our staff and avoid any delays."
The council is currently taking around 30 days to process each search due to urgent ones being dealt with, but if more applications are submitted at an earlier stage, the time it takes to process the searches will reduce.