The data used to produce this report is extracted from the Land Register, which is created from the information provided within applications for registration.
The risk of inaccurate data being submitted, and of inaccuracies being created by errors in the land registration process, is inherent but is mitigated by the following:
- checks done by solicitors
- pre-application checks and reports provided by RoS prior to solicitors submitting applications
- RoS registration officers conducting registration checks
- RoS Quality Team undertaking quality checks
- RoS Land & Property Data Team undertaking quality assurance on the data
Both the Land Registration etc. (Scotland) Act 2012– which superseded the Land Registration Act (Scotland) 1979 on 8 December 2014 - and the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016 impose statutory duties on the Keeper which govern the role RoS holds within the Scottish legal and economic framework.
One of the most significant changes in approach to land registration made following the implementation of the Land Registration etc. (Scotland) Act 2012 was to put the main responsibility of the accuracy of data submitted to RoS within the remit of the submitting agent (usually the solicitor acting on behalf of the purchaser) rather than the Keeper. This provides increased reliability on the quality of data we can extract from the documents submitted for registration in the Land Register since these agents have a greater responsibility to ensure the integrity of the register.
A full current ownership extraction of data was taken from the Land Register based on the “country” field in the purchasers’/tenants’ address. A substantial quality assurance exercise allowed all titles registered in the Land Register as of 31st December 2017 to be allocated to one of five location categories1 (Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland, overseas) based on the address held for the grantee (owner or tenant at the time of purchase). This quality assurance exercise allowed for the identification of over 15,000 unique titles2 in which the grantee had an overseas address at the time of purchase.
The Scotland category (which comprises over 1.6 million titles, around 94% of the Land Register) is in essence what was left over from this quality assurance exercise. The titles within this category were not quality assured to the same extent as for the other categories due to the volumes of titles involved.
Due to technical and legal issues, some titles within the Scotland category may have a grantee whose address at the time of registration was outwith the UK, but these have not been identified as such. For example, titles registered in favour of companies before December 2014 when the country of incorporation was only provided on a voluntary basis.
Rules were also applied to standardise the naming conventions within the overseas data. This was required primarily because of the different versions of country names provided by submitting agents within their applications for registration and because of spelling errors. In order to rectify this, country names were standardised to UN naming conventions, and rules were created around other common variations. For example, references to Dubai or Abu Dhabi in the country field were changed to United Arab Emirates, and references to the “Channel Islands” were changed to the individual island name.
Further quality assurance has also been conducted on the overseas data to classify each type of owner into the following six categories:
- Limited companies,
- Trustees / other unincorporated bodies,
- Individuals & trustees,
- Individuals and limited companies, and
- Unknowns (i.e. where it is not clear whether an organisation is a limited company from the information provided).
A set of rules has been developed to ensure that future quality assurance will be less onerous. In addition, parallel developments within RoS registration systems, such as country-name drop-down lists, will support data quality going forward.
Statisticians in the Scottish Government have provided advice in relation to the content of this report and in relation to the processes to be followed in producing statistics from house price registration data.
- There can be more than one purchaser/tenant registered to a title, and so it is possible that, for the overseas location category, there could be more than one unique country identified per title. As a result, the sum of individual countries listed may exceed the number of titles.
- Further information on the quality assurance processes in place for RoS data is available in the Quality Assurance of Administrative Data document, as published for the UK House Price Index. The Scotland data for the UK HPI is also extracted from the Land Register.