A government decision to remove one of the fees for searches needed before a residential conveyancing contract is agreed is unlikely to benefit anyone and penalises local government, say representatives of house purchase lawyers.
At the end of July, the Housing Minister Grant Shapps said the £22 cost for people to look at the land charges register held by their local authority would be abolished.
He said the decision was made as a result of implementing European legislation which says anyone wanting to research environmental information must be able to do so without charge.
Having abolished Home Information Packs, he suggested this next step by the Government would also help home buyers by reducing costs and improving efficiency.
However, representatives of the solicitors body The Law Society disagreed with this prediction.
Its property spokesman Paul Marsh said in the context of moving house, the fee was a very small amount. George Curran, who speaks for legal advisers in local government, said it was hard to identify anyone who would benefit from the change.
He added that reducing the income of local authority land charges departments by not allowing them to collect the fee could lead to some staff cuts with a knock-on delay in providing information which was still required.
"So revoking the £22 fee is simply going to further reduce our income, while we still have the cost involved of providing the service," he said.
He suggested a better service for house purchase lawyers and their clients would be to provide fast and free access to property information online where the public could have direct access to the land charges register but this would require further investment.