People trying to move house in the borough are still facing lengthy delays due to problems in a council department.

Estate agents have reported people's house moves being held up for up to nine weeks due to delays processing land searches.

When people move house they must have a land search undertaken by the council. The searches check for planning applications that could affect the property. In usual cases they take a week to two weeks.

However, since March, Sutton Council's land searches have been taking significantly longer in part due to staff sickness at the council.

We first reported in the issue last month but it appears the situation has continued and, although the council has brought in extra staff to deal with the backlog, it is due to carry on until mid-July.

Once the backlog has been dealt with, the council said it will review the service to make sure the situation does not arise again.

Among those affected by the issue was estate agent Julie Brooks who works for Jack Harvey in Stonecot. She said: "At the moment it's taking an average of nine weeks. Compared to other places it's terrible - in Merton it takes a week, some places its two to three days.

"It's a terrible situation. Moving house is stressful enough without delays like this.

"We've got a woman who's eight months pregnant. She was supposed to move about three weeks ago but now it looks like she won't be moving until after she's given birth."

Sutton Council said it has a system for dealing with urgent cases and is making estate agents aware of the situation as it improves.

A council spokesman added: "We currently have a backlog of land searches which we are addressing as a matter of urgency.

"The backlog is due to a combination of increased demand for the service and staff shortages which have now been rectified.

"We realise this can be frustrating for people at a stressful time and we are sorry for the inconvenience

"We are doubling the amount of full time staff in order to clear the backlog.

"We anticipate getting back to our normal level of service by mid July."