A conveyancer's guide to the Property Trust Data Framework

A conveyancer’s guide to the Property Data Trust Framework: June 2023

The Property Data Trust Framework promises to be the enabler that finally enables a fully digital conveyancing process. Many other initiatives and products have promised that, and failed. Ed Molyneux, co-founder of Moverly, Participant of the Home Buying and Selling Technology Group, and key contributor to the framework, explains why this time it’s different.

What’s in the box?

In previous articles in this series, we’ve dived into the importance of interoperability, and therefore standards, if we’re going to do anything to improve the flow of information that underpins a conveyancing transaction. And we’ve explored how the Property Data Trust Framework finally offers a way to represent the provenance of data that can underpin genuine trust across all parties.

In our Christmas Tree analogy, we showed an example of how an EPC rating can be represented as a bauble on a known branch, along with its provenance.

But of course there’s a bit more to it than that; we need to cover the whole gamut of information requirements from the property address (harder than you might think) to attestations about Japanese Knotweed to information about restrictive covenants.

The scope of what’s covered by the current (v2.0) PDTF schema is shown below (the existing areas of coverage are shown in orange, and current areas of development in grey):

This diagram shows how the information is organised, but most people would be more familiar with the wide range of forms that are currently used, so an important role of the schema is to find common ground across these forms and represent their contents as datasets in a standard way. 

Often the data itself appears across multiple forms, so the PDTF schema contains labels that allow us to reference a single piece of data in relation to where it appears on each form, and that data can be mapped to or from a digital version of that form, or used as an output in order to pre-fill the form you need.

The labelled data in the schema can currently be mapped to and from the following forms:

  • Home Buying and Selling Group BASPI (v4.0) parts A and B – free to use
  • PropertyMark PIQ (v3.0) – free to use
  • National Trading Standards (NTS) Material Information Part A – free to use
  • Law Society TA6 (4th edition – 2020), TA7 (3rd edition 2023), TA10 (3rd edition 2013), CON29R (2016), CON29DW (2021) – requires purchasing a Law Society licence annually to use
  • Leasehold/freehold enquiries forms LPE1 (4th edition – 2023), LPE2 (2nd edition 2021), FME1 (2nd edition 2021) – free to use
  • HMLR / Local Authority Local Land Charges LLC1 – free to use
  • HMLR Official Copy Title Register Extract – free to use
  • OpenDataCommunities EPC certificate – free to use

It’s worth noting that of the above forms only the Law Society TA forms are not free to use: they are subject to Law Society copyright and require a commercial licence to be purchased from them on an annual basis. So for the PDTF we incorporate the references to where the data appears but don’t represent the forms themselves. If you’re a law firm or a conveyancing software company, you’ll need to apply to the Law Society to pay them every year to licence and produce the TA forms.

In order to achieve the most adoption and to promote innovation, the PDTF schema itself is open-source and will always be entirely free for anyone to use. We have committed to ensuring it’s kept up to date as the industry-standard forms continue to evolve (and, for example, when National Trading Standards release their Material Information Parts B and C), although in the future we do believe that moving away from old-fashioned forms and onto digital data sets is the way forward!

As well as forms-based data, the schema includes digital representations of environmental searches, and we’re working actively with search providers to ensure report summaries and risk flags can be represented in a standard way.

In the next article we’ll explore the “so what?” – how can having standardised data and provenance unlock faster and less risky transactions?

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