Local Authority Searches: The Lowdown

Paul Hajek | 21 Mar 2011


When you are buying a house, commissioning a search of the records held by the Local Authority, normally kicks off the Conveyancing Process.

The local search or more correctly the Local Authority Search is essential in every Conveyancing purchase; that is if you don’t want any nasty surprises when you buy your new home.

The Local Authority will look up the so called “charges” (existing obligations and restrictions) register. The Local Authority will provide further information as well in relation to the use of the property and responsibility or otherwise of footpaths and highways.

A planned motorway at the bottom of your garden is the most common illustration, we Conveyancing Solicitors trot out. Although less likely now, the threat of a high speed railway at the bottom of your garden is very much on the cards properties on the proposed new high speed rail link from London to the Midlands and beyond.

1. Who pays for the Local Search?

The Local Authority Search is no longer undertaken by the Seller, now that HIPs have been culled. The Buyer pays for the Local Search

Your Conveyancing Solicitor will put in hand the Local Search as soon as you have put him in funds to do so at the outset of the transaction.

When your Conveyancing Solicitor asks you for money on account, it is for the local Search and any other searches which may be required.

2. How long will the local Search take?

Timescales vary around the country, from same day (electronically) to several weeks.

3. How much will the Local Search cost?

The cost of the Search also varies wildly from £75 to a couple of hundred pounds.

In this area the cost of a local search with South Gloucestershire Council is £100; Bristol City Council £100 and Stroud District Council £149

4. What is included in the Local Search?

The Local Authority’s records will indicate:

• are the highways adjoining the property are publicly maintained
• major road schemes close to the property, and minor schemes abutting or affecting the property
• a list of planning decisions affecting the property
• contaminated land
• is the property in a conservation area
• a list of building regulations affecting the property
• Enforcement notices for violation of planning permissions

5. What a Local Search Won’t Reveal: Warning!

Local Authorities do not guarantee the accuracy of the replies they give.

The Local Search will normally not volunteer specific information about nearby road proposals or new developments, unless there has been a formal application for outline or detailed planning consent.

Your Conveyancing Solicitor will not visit the property you are purchasing.

If you are concerned about potential development as your property abuts vacant land or fields you MUST inform your Conveyancing solicitor who can make further enquiries on your behalf.

You could also visit the Council’s Planning Office who are very helpful in filling in background information for you.

6. Will the Local Search run out?

A Local Search is time sensitive.

Recent planning proposals submitted after the date of your Local Search will not be covered.

You will need to take the advice of your Conveyancing Solicitor as to whether you should renew the Local Search.

At all times if you have any questions your Conveyancing Solicitor will be only to happy to advise. 

Paul Hajek

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