Home buying goes paperless

Written by Sam Trendall on 30 July 2020 in News
News

HM Land Registry announces acceptance of electronic signatures for mortgages and other deeds

Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire/PA Images

HM Land Registry is to allow citizens to sign documents with an electronic signature. 

This will mean mortgages, ownership- and lease-transfer documents, and other legal deeds can be signed entirely electronically – provided a named witness also completes the online signing process. 

Buyers, property professionals, and conveyancers will soon be able to upload documents to Land Registry systems, and then use a two-factor authentication process – in which a unique code is provided to authenticate signatories – to complete the signature process. In each case, both the signatory and a co-signing witness will be required to complete this process.


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As of earlier this year, the government agency has permitted so-called Mercury signing, in which a signed paper document can be scanned and sent digitally. But, according to Land Registry chief executive Simon Hayes, “the last strict requirement to print and sign a paper document in a home buying or other property transaction” been removed.

“This should help right now while lots of us are working at home, but it is also a keystone of a truly digital, secure and more efficient conveyancing process that we believe is well within reach,” he added. “The more sophisticated qualified electronic signatures are a part of that vision and encouraging those is where our attention will be directed next.”

The more sophisticated qualified electronic signature model requires verification of the signatory’s identification before signing. HM Land Registry hopes to implement this technology “as soon as practicable”. Once it has done so, it will review whether to continue to allow witnessed electronic signatures.

 

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Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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