What Are Those Mysterious Conveyancing Local Searches All About?

null | 21 Nov 2014

local searches when you buy a house

The local search or more correctly the Local Authority Search is essential in every house or flat purchase.

Your Conveyancing Solicitor to unlock the door to your new home must carry out good due diligence. Searches, not just Local Searches, are an important part of that investigation

The results of a Local Authority Search and other searches will ensure there are no nasty surprises after you move into your new home.

Conveyancing Searches and Improved Technology

Increasingly, the Local Authority search will be commissioned electronically by your Conveyancing Solicitor at the same time as other conveyancing searches and reports such as a Water and Drainage and Environmental Report.

There are many search companies ( we use ETSOS for example) who will drill down legions of data to ensure up to date relevant information is requested on your new home.

Improved technology means that Search Companies can automatically flag any locality specific searches which may be relevant such as Chancel Repair Liability, Coal, Tin or Brine.

The Local Authority Search

The Local Authority will look up 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, although less likely nowadays is the most common illustration, we Conveyancing Solicitors trot out.

Nowadays, the threat of a high speed railway at the bottom of your garden may be more relevant and is very much on the cards for properties on the proposed new high speed rail link from London to the Midlands and beyond.

1. Who pays for the Local Search?

The Buyer pays for the Local Search.  

When your Conveyancing Solicitor asks you for money on account normally around £300 to £350, it is for the local Search and any other searches which may be required.

2. What is the Cost of Local and Other Conveyancing Searches

The cost of the Local Search varies. It depends which part of the country you are buying in.

In this area, the cost of a local search with Bristol and South Gloucestershire Council just over £100 hundred pounds and Stroud District Council the cost is around £140.

When you factor in other searches and reports for Coal, Brine, Environmental issues the cost creeps up to around £300 or more.

3. How long will the local Searches take?

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

4. What is included in the Local Search?

The Local Authority’s records will indicate:

– If the highways adjoining the property publicly maintained
– Any major road schemes close to the property, and minor schemes abutting or affecting the property.
– A list of planning decisions affecting the property.
– If there is a risk of Contaminated land.
– If the property in a conservation area.
– A list of building regulations affecting the property.
– Any enforcement notices for violation of planning permissions.

5. What a Local Search Won’t Reveal

Be Aware! 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 normally 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. Water and Drainage Search

A set of standard questions are sent to the water company responsible for the property to enquire about:

– The proximity of public sewers
– If there is a sewer running through the property
– If the property is connected to mains water
– If foul water and surface drainage from the property drains into a public sewer.
– The location of the water mains.

7. Optional Searches

There are also a number of other searches which as we have said are dependent on geographical location.

– Commons search – for houses bordering common land or village greens.
– Coal mining search – for houses in an area with mining history.
– Environmental search – identifies previous land use, flooding risks, subsidence etc.
– Land charges – only done if the land is unregistered. 
– Chancel Repair Liability – recommended for properties in close proximity to churches. 

8. 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.

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