Property Deeds in Safe Hands
UK Asset Resolution aided business separation and sale by consolidating the management and storage of mortgage files with Iron Mountain
CHALLENGE: To consolidate and relocate the storage of property deeds and mortgage files quickly and securely
SOLUTION: Off-site records management and storage services
VALUE: Key enabler for the timely disposal of parts of the Bradford & Bingley and Northern Rock businesses
Established by the British Government on 1st October 2010 following the banking crisis, UK Asset Resolution (UKAR) is the holding company for the Government-owned elements of the former Bradford & Bingley and Northern Rock financial services businesses. Its role is to manage the closed mortgage books of those companies to ensure customers are treated fairly, while mitigating business losses to maximise value for the taxpayer.
After its nationalisation in 2008 Bradford & Bingley was divided into two discrete entities. The retail deposit business, including its branch network, was separated from its loan and mortgage business. The retail deposit business was prepared for sale, and was ultimately acquired by Santander, while the remainder of the company stayed under government control. This separation prompted the division of company assets and the rationalisation of central office accommodation that was not part of the sale.
Jennifer Marshall, Outsourced Relationship Manager at UKAR, recalls: “Bradford & Bingley had two principal offices in Bingley but, following separation and with fewer staff, only one was required. Disposing of the other meant that we had to make alternative arrangements for the safe and secure storage of thousands of deeds for properties under mortgage that were kept in the basement of that building.”
Bradford & Bingley already had experience of using Iron Mountain to store and manage mortgage files and deeds for its specialist buy-to-let subsidiary, Mortgage Express. Along with two other vendors, Iron Mountain was invited to submit a proposal for the transfer, storage, and management of the property deeds.
“We chose Iron Mountain as we considered it to be the best company for the job,” says Jennifer Marshall. “Continued ready access to property deeds and mortgage files would be essential. Iron Mountain proved easy to do business with and we had confidence in its people and processes. Its costs were competitive too.”
The project went without a hitch, so a year later, when a very similar project was required for Northern Rock, UKAR again turned to Iron Mountain.
Northern Rock had been similarly separated into two legal entities. Northern Rock Asset Management (NRAM), its mortgage arm, was to remain part of UKAR, while the Northern Rock savings business needed to be prepared for sale to allow funds to be returned to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Despite the division of the business, some resources, such as document storage, continued as shared services, but with a sale looming this arrangement needed to change.
To support the disposal of the Northern Rock savings business (which was ultimately acquired by Virgin Money), 450,000 NRAM property deeds needed to be quickly rehoused from the existing company storage facility in Gosforth, as this building would transfer to the new owners. Iron Mountain again assembled a dedicated team of eight people to work at Gosforth to manage the transition. NRAM files were not bar-coded, so this time file information needed to be manually keyed into IM Connect™.
“With the pace of the project there were inevitably some minor keying errors, but Iron Mountain took full accountability, conducting a quality audit and rectifying mistakes,” confirms Jennifer Marshall. “Iron Mountain showed a remarkable commitment to quality and completed the transfer of files to its Sunderland storage facility on schedule in just six weeks.”
As part of the contract, in both instances Iron Mountain delivered on-site training to familiarise UKAR departmental co-ordinators with the IM Connect™ web portal. This is used to order files and, as necessary, return files to store.
The consolidation of property files with Iron Mountain became a key enabler for the timely disposal of parts of the Bradford & Bingley and Northern Rock businesses, allowing funds to be returned to the UK economy. As well as around 770,000 sets of property deeds, Iron Mountain also stores approximately 300,000 Mortgage Express customer files for UKAR. Jennifer Marshall says: “By consolidating the files with Iron Mountain we have been able to standardise our processes, improve efficiency, and achieve better value by leveraging economies of scale.”
Deeds are now safe, secure, and accessible, stored in a specialist facility, featuring advanced fire detection and suppression systems, intrusion detection and alarm systems, physical key card access controls, and CCTV monitoring.
As mortgages are constantly redeemed, fast and accurate file retrieval is vital for UKAR. Around 3,500 files are retrieved from store every month. Service levels have been set so that any files ordered by 15:30 are delivered to UKAR offices the following business day.
Jennifer Marshall sums up: “IM Connect™ is so easy to use and our account manager at Iron Mountain is very responsive should we ever need anything extra. Overall, Iron Mountain provides us with a very good service indeed.”