Another Friday, another Newsround. Quite a short Newsround as I could not find much news this week.
I am going to start with a warning
Be careful with inspections and viewings
All the signs are that Coronaiviurs is still very much with us. Indeed some are saying that far from having a second wave, the first wave is still with us.
So please be very careful when doing viewings and inspections. Wear masks when indoors, practice social distancing and always carry sanitiser (and use it frequently).
It’s a very nasty disease and I would not want you to suffer with it needlessly.
The end of the wet-signature?
The Land Registry has now announced that they will accept property deeds signed and witnessed electronically. Note that where documents need to be ‘signed as a deed’, as is the case with all conveyances, those signatures will still need to be witnessed, and witnesses will need to electronically sign the documents.
The Land Registry also said it is exploring the use of qualified electronic signatures that would allow a “qualified trust provider” to verify a signature themselves.
Chief executive Simon Hayes said:
What we have done today is remove the last strict requirement to print and sign a paper document in a home buying or other property transaction. 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.
The more sophisticated qualified electronic signatures are a part of that vision and encouraging those is where our attention will be directed next.
Law Society president Simon Davis said he was pleased to see how quickly Land Registry has responded to the practical problems arising from the pandemic, saing
Consumers are used to dealing with two-fold authentication with their banks and other providers. Ensuring that e-signature solution providers are able to produce what is being asked of them is an important initial step to adoption.
The next stage in the process – introducing full digital signatures that do not require witnesses and verify ID to a high level – should make transactions more secure and form a key part of the increasingly digital systems we hope to see in the near future.
The news articles focus on property sales, but this also means that e-signatures properly witnessed could also be used to create tenancies. At present most tenancies rely on section 54(2) of the Law of Property Act 1925.
John Lewis and Waitrose to become landlords?
An interesting report on the Guardian says that the owner of John Lewis and Waitrose is exploring turning its surplus retail space into affordable housing as the growth of online shopping forces it to close or scale back stores.
John Lewis group chair Sharon White in a letter to staff said declining profits in the retail industry necessitated a push into services, including new areas such as private rented housing:
As we repurpose and potentially reduce our shop estate, we want to put excess space to good social use. We are exploring with third parties the concept of new mixed-use affordable housing.
This follows ideas in a recent report from the Social Market Foundation thinktank which said that rather than trying to revitalise town centres in their current form the government should look to turn empty shopping parades into residential hubs.
John Lewis is closing eight of its 50 department stores, including large outlets in Birmingham and Watford, and it looks as if more Waitrose closures may be on the way. So more opportunity for new housing maybe?
- Sort out Universal Credit problems or landlords will begin drifting away, expert warns DWP
- How rent rises compare to other major costs-of-living
- Give tenants power to trigger energy improvements – Generation Rent
- ‘We are the A&E of law’: the first UK law centre for poor people turns 50
- Portfolio landlord given two-year jail sentence and told to repay £200,000 after shocking fraud
- Denbighshire County Council introduces HMO rules in four towns in one go
- Agents and landlords fined tens of thousands in vermin scandal
Newsround will be back next week.