Calls for property logbooks to become mandatory

A report by consumer group Which? has recommended the adoption of digital logbooks as a means for government to ‘find ways to make home information and advice relevant to consumers’ needs, accessible, and accurate and reliable.’

Reforming EPCs to support households in the energy transition‘ considers way to make EPC information more accessible, suggesting  every home should have an EPC that ‘links to a Logbook that contains more detailed information about the building and plans.’

The recommendation has been welcomed by The Residential Logbook Association (RLBA) which regulates digital logbook providers. RLBA spokesperson and CEO of Logbook company NDD Simon Lumb says

“the UK already has a vibrant market for digital property logbooks and across the RLBA membership there are now approximately 500k homes in the UK with a logbook.“

In the UK the roll-out of digital property logbooks has been driven by the home buying & selling industry, who are looking for ways to improve the conveyancing process. Across Europe logbooks are seen primarily as a tool to help drive decarbonisation of the housing stock. In both France and Belgium, Logbooks are already mandated for new build properties and any homes that have been renovated for NetZero in a way that improves their EPC rating. Legislation is going through the Irish Parliament (the Dáil Éireann) to the same effect.

The government to date have provided no indications the UK will mandate Logbooks, but the RLBA point to changes across the sector which are making the centralised storage of property information more appealing to home owners and the wider property market. The National Retrofit Hub, a not for profit charged with delivering the National Retrofit Strategy, recently released its document “Digital Building Logbooks and Retrofit: An Introduction” setting out how the data sharing called for by Which? will actually work. The UK government is also funding a trial of Logbooks with EPC and retrofit data integrated in them and connected to data sources like the EPC register and the Trustmark register of certified installers.

The challenge, say the RLBA, is making this clear and usable by homeowners. The Which? report called for “the development of apps and online services which provide a more accessible presentation of the information in an EPC”.

“That is exactly the role of the digital logbook. In many ways a Logbook is just a companion app for your home and making them usable and helpful is part of our consumer challenge.”

adds Lumb. Two RLBA member companies Chimni and Novoville are already trialling this kind of retrofit functionality and are working with the NRH to agree data standards and access models that can apply across the whole industry. The RLBA is also currently trialling “Letting Logbooks” in partnership with Birmingham City Council and the Connected Places Catapult to help with the collation of data associated with rental property when purchasing Buy-To-Let (BTL) properties and portfolios

4 responses

  1. Someone wanting to sell a product which they can supply? Nothing should be made mandatory without careful advice from the people who actually deal with property transfers, namely Solicitors/Conveyancers and those “at the coalface” need to be canvassed for their views, not merely their professional representatives, who may well deal with other aspects of legal work.

    1. Michael – the RLBA have been consulting with both the Law Society, the Conveyancing Association and the SLC (plus various other Govt and industry bodies) on this topic since 2018. Individual companies in the RLBA like Chimni and NDD have been canvassing as many individual conveyancing companies as possible. Still lots of work to do but we are happy to talk to anyone on this and hear their views.

      Nigel Walley – Chair of the Residential Logbook Association (RLBA)

  2. I agree with the idea. There should be one place which owners can go to store all information and then for Conveyancers to pick up. It would no doubt save endless enquiries. However, lets learn lessons from the handling of the protocol documents. Consult!

  3. Canvassing is all very well. We have seen its effectiveness and failures, along with attempts to create all sorts of mandatory forms, reports, and systems. We have yet to see true value in any of them. Repercussions in some areas are proving to be totally disastrous and, in some cases, life-changing. So many of them have to do with data handling, at the time of introduction, giving significant incomes to the providers and creates.

    The most serious do achieve media attention. Organisations like The Post Office: How many lives has that impacted? The Probate Register: What about the thousands inconvenienced by the ineffective data processing that was introduced? Land Registry and their data processing: Has that been able to resolve the two-year backlog and two million queries yet?

    More recently, the furore of the Property Lawyers with The Law Society has been canvassed to mandate a form their members do not want. And there is still a prospect of it happening.

    Canvassing or Collaborating. The unfortunate aspect of this is that “canvassers” have both funds and time to spend and target those they feel will listen so that the product/service can be monetised, adding a further cost.

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