The Council of Property Search Organisations (CoPSO) has written to Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick asking for his intervention to address the growing issue of delays in the provision of searches to homebuyers and their conveyancers.

According to CoPSO data, more than 35% of local authorities are taking more than 20 working days to process search requests.

For many of these cases, the delays are more than 30 working days and in some cases significantly more.

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It is apparent that these delays are now impacting on the progress of transactions, and thus the problem requires immediate attention according to the CoPSO.

James Sherwood-Rogers, chairman at CoPSO, said: “With the expiry of the stamp duty holiday at the end of March looming large, the progress of home purchase transactions is becoming increasingly time critical.

“It is vital that the current delays in procuring searches at an increasing number of local authorities is addressed urgently; and we have no doubt that this needs attention at central government.

“Responsibility for the operation of the housing market, and for local authorities come together with Robert Jenrick and this is the reason we have approached him for his direct intervention.

“CoPSO fully understands the extremely difficult conditions that local authorities are having to deal with at this time, and is sympathetic to the resourcing challenges that they face against a backdrop of extraordinary demand caused by a hyperactive property market.

“We have communicated with many of the authorities that have substantial backlogs and delayed turnaround times, and the feedback from the overwhelming majority is that they are under-resourced.

“With the expiry of the stamp duty holiday being primarily responsible for the overactive property market, and the Chancellor stubbornly refusing to extend the deadline, it behoves central government to provide additional resource to local government to address the problem of search delays.”

CoPSO has offered help and support to Mr Jenrick and MHCLG to identify those authorities which urgently need additional resource; and to work with its members to optimise the impact of whatever additional resource is provided.