Linz to Phase Out Paper Lodgements
Media Release 8 February 2006
Linz to Phase Out Paper Lodgement of Survey & Title Transactions
Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) has welcomed Government’s decision to phase out paper-based lodgement of land transactions, and says it is good news for New Zealanders buying, selling and subdividing property.
Land Information Minister Pete Hodgson today announced that the electronic Landonline system will be enhanced to enable all survey and land title transactions to be lodged electronically. By 1 July 2008 surveyors and conveyancers will be required to use Landonline to lodge all transactions.
“New Zealanders buying, selling and subdividing property will benefit from an efficient and secure automated process in which new titles will be issued faster,” said Chief Executive Brendan Boyle.
Less paper handling will require LINZ to make changes to its processing operations over the next nine years. LINZ would begin consulting with staff and the Public Service Association (PSA) on the implications of moving to 100% electronic lodgement of survey and title transactions, Mr Boyle said.
“With fewer paper lodgements, the volume of manual processing work will decrease significantly. As e-lodgement increases, we are looking at reducing 112 positions, with most being gradually phased out over the next three years.
“A smaller workforce means we will no longer require five regional processing centres. Long term, we are proposing to retain two processing centres, in Hamilton and Christchurch. By 2015 we expect to have closed Dunedin, Wellington and Auckland centres.”
LINZ staff and the PSA were briefed earlier today on the proposed changes. “We are committed to supporting staff throughout the process. Next week we will begin consultation on our proposal to implement 100% electronic lodgement and the change management process going forward,” Mr Boyle said.
LINZ processes around 17,500 title and survey transactions a week, through the electronic Landonline system. Progressive improvements to Landonline, since it was introduced in 2000, have enabled conveyancers and surveyors to access land information and to lodge most of their transactions remotely. In December 2005, around 22 percent of e-capable title lodgements, and 37 percent of survey transactions, were lodged electronically.
“Continuing to run both a paper and an electronic system is uneconomic and would be more costly for LINZ and our customers in the long run. Moving to a fully electronic system is the only way to realise the benefits of Landonline,” Mr Boyle said. “It is also consistent with Government’s desire to deliver its services electronically.”
To give customers time to prepare, 100% electronic lodgement will be phased in gradually, starting with discharges on 1 May 2007, transfers and mortgages on 1 August 2007, survey transactions on 1 September 2007, and all remaining title transactions, such as caveats and rights of way, on 1 July 2008.
Public counters in all processing centres will close from 1 July 2008. Members of the public wishing to obtain a copy of a title or survey plan could do so via other providers or via the Internet. LINZ was also developing and consulting on a strategy to manage access to its core paper records before the 2008 deadline.
To help conveyancers and surveyors make the transition, LINZ will provide free training to firms around the country and offer additional helpdesk support via its 0800 number to all its customers, Mr Boyle said.
Q & As attached.
The Minister’s media statement can be
Regulatory Impact Statement can be found at:
Landonline: 100% Electronic Lodgement
Media Questions & Answers
What is Landonline?
Landonline is New Zealand’s electronic titles register and digital cadastre, maintained by Land Information New Zealand. Registered land professionals – conveyancers, lawyers and surveyors - can conduct secure electronic title and survey transactions in real time via the Landonline website, automating and speeding up traditional (and sometimes prolonged and complex) manual processes.
For instance, conveyancers and surveyors used to have to request title and survey records by fax or visit LINZ’s offices. Now they can access records in minutes using Landonline. Title transactions lodged on paper can take days, while the electronic lodgement process is practically instantaneous. Practitioners who use Landonline have said that their offices have become more efficient as a result of using Landonline, enabling them to provide a faster, more efficient service to customers.
The move to 100% electronic lodgement is consistent with Government’s desire to see its services supplied electronically as part of its e-government initiatives.
Land Information New Zealand processes around 17,500 title and survey transactions a week. Landonline has also enabled LINZ to streamline its own business functions, resulting in faster processing of survey and title lodgements and registration.
Why is LINZ moving to 100% electronic lodgement of survey and title transactions?
Currently only certain types of land transactions are able to be lodged electronically. The Government’s announcement today means LINZ can extend the functionality of Landonline to enable more instrument types to be lodged electronically, which will mean greater efficiencies for conveyancers and surveyors, and their clients.
In December 2005, around 22 percent of e-capable title lodgements, and 37 percent of survey transactions, were lodged electronically. However, the full benefits of Landonline and investment in the system, can never be realised if only some practitioners are using it. For example, a routine title transfer requires two conveyancers to work together (one acting on behalf of the buyer, the other on behalf of the seller). So the amount of work conveyancers can lodge electronically is limited by the number of other conveyancers using Landonline.
Why not continue with the status quo?
Continuing to run both a paper and an electronic system will be more costly for LINZ and its customers in the long run. Moving to full electronic lodgement is the only way to realise the benefits of Government’s investment in Landonline.
Maintaining both paper and electronic channels is impacting on LINZ’s business because more resource is needed to process a higher volume of paper transactions than was forecast. LINZ would require significant increases to baseline funding and to user charges.
What will today’s announcement mean for conveyancers and surveyors?
By 1 July 2008, Landonline will be the only means of lodging survey and title transactions with LINZ.
Since Landonline was introduced
in 2000, it was always intended to move to 100%
e-lodgement. We have had extensive discussions with lawyers and surveyors on the issue and the implications for them. Many practitioners indicated they would only move to electronic lodgement if they had to. To help with the transition, we will provide free training and additional help desk support to all practitioners.
How will the changes be communicated to customers?
We will be explaining the implications of today’s announcement to customers via email and post, including those already using Landonline and those who are not yet making electronic lodgements. This information will include how we propose to support them through the transition, including training. Our Customer Support staff and staff attending our public counters will also be able to assist customers and public with any inquiries. Full information will be available on the LINZ and Landonline websites: www.linz.govt.nz and www.landonline.govt.nz
How will 100% electronic lodgement be implemented, and what is the timetable for phasing out the paper system?
To give our customers time to prepare, paper or manual systems will be gradually phased out over the next two and a half years. The timetable for 100% electronic lodgement is: discharges on 1 May 2007, transfers and mortgages on 1 August 2007, survey transactions on 1 September 2007, and all remaining title transactions, such as caveats and rights of way, on 1 July 2008.
What will 100% electronic lodgement cost businesses?
LINZ has tried to contain costs to business through a relatively long lead-in time for 100% electronic lodgement and free training and additional helpdesk staff to support users. Also, Landonline has been designed so users can work with readily available PC software and hardware. There may be some one off costs. Where new computer equipment may be needed, indicative set-up costs for conveyancers, is around $3,000. Set up costs for a single survey user would be around $5,700.
What will it cost the taxpayer?
Landonline is fully funded through user charges. (Fees paid by conveyancers, lawyers and surveyors). There are no additional financial costs to taxpayers as the capital for upgrading and enhancing the Landonline system can be funded from depreciation, and operational costs can be met through revenue from fees and charges.
Will fees change?
LINZ will be improving the features and performance of Landonline. Enhancements will enable conveyancing firms to lodge a wider range of transactions than they can now, and in extended hours. Transaction fees will need to be adjusted to meet the costs of an improved Landonline. However electronic fees will still be lower than the cost of manual transactions. We will be consulting with stakeholders before any adjustment is made to fees and charges.
What is LINZ doing to ensure the reliability and availability of the system?
We know our customers require a reliable and high performing system, especially as it will be the only channel for transacting with LINZ. To date Landonline has performed well. Over the last calendar year, January to December 2005, it was available for just over 98% of business hours. We will continue to improve and enhance Landonline’s reliability and availability before the paper channel is withdrawn.
How secure is the system?
Only registered users can access Landonline, while technical and access security layers guard against threats to its integrity. LINZ securely backs up all survey and title records on a regular basis. This reduces risk to the titles register and digital cadastre.
What will 100% electronic lodgement mean for LINZ and its staff?
As electronic lodgement increases we will require a smaller number of staff able to do complex transactions in processing centres, and an expanded Customer Support, with more staff helping at the point of e-lodgement.
We expect to reduce 112 positions, with most positions being phased out over the next three years. We will be encouraging staff with the required skills to apply for other positions to LINZ, and will assist with relocation costs. We will support staff through the change process including providing career planning, counselling and retraining.
With a reduced workforce we will no longer require five regional processing centres. Long term, we are proposing that LINZ retain two processing centres, in Hamilton and Christchurch. BY 2015 we expect to have closed Dunedin, Wellington and Auckland centres.
Just when the three Centres close will depend on a range of factors, including whether there are sufficient staff with the right capability, and would be reviewed prior to office leases coming up for renewal (between 2008 and 2011). Options then could include taking a smaller space in the same building, shared accommodation with another Government department, or closing the office if we no longer need to retain the staff.
Why retain the Hamilton and Christchurch sites as LINZ’s processing centres?
We require a centre in the North Island and in the South Island for business continuity planning reasons (in case of natural disaster or similar emergency). The decision to retain the Hamilton and Christchurch sites was based on a number of factors, including the need to ensure we have the staff capability to continue to provide a high level of service to customers. In the South Island, the Christchurch centre has sufficient staff numbers to remain viable in the future. In the North Island, the Hamilton centre offered the best long-term location because it has capacity to house the number of staff required for the future and because of its central location with good transport links. There were greater costs in closing Hamilton and moving the larger number of records stored there off-site.
Will staff be consulted?
The move to 100% electronic lodgement has
been forecast for some time and the implications have been
discussed with staff and the PSA. The Government’s decision
will bring more certainty for staff. How LINZ proposes to
implement the changes required will be decided by management
after consultation with staff and the Public Service
Association. Next week (from 13 February) we will begin a
month-long process of consultation over the change
management process. Staff will be informed as soon as a
final decision is made.
What will the closure of public counters in 2008 mean for members of the public wanting to get copies of titles or core paper records?
With 100% electronic lodgement, there will be no need for public counters in our processing centres. It is proposed that counters will close on 1 July 2008. This will change the way members of the public access titles and survey records and “core paper records” from our archives.
People wanting copies of title or survey plans can currently request them either through other providers, or on the Internet. We will be looking to enhance our website services before counters close.
For users of core paper records (e.g. survey field books, original deeds, indexes and journals), we will be investigating ways to manage and access these in an electronic environment and we will consult widely on the resulting strategy.
Will any paper records be destroyed?
No. All and any paper records affected by the move to 100% electronic lodgement will be appropriately archived, as were the seven million documents following digitalisation as part of the original Landonline project.