What are the usual conveyancing searches?
When we are undertaking the purchase of a flat or a house, we don’t only look at the legal title or the lease. We also ask a certain set of questions about the property (which we call “raising enquiries”) and we also carry out some searches.
Local Authority Search
A Local Authority Search is a certain set of fixed questions that are sent to the local council. We submit all of our search requests electronically and different local authorities charge different amounts for dealing with the search requests (and take different lengths of time to process them).
Included in the questions raised in the Local Authority Search are questions about the following:
- planning permissions that have been granted in the past
- applications for building regulation approval
- whether the property is within a Conservation Area
- whether there are any trees on the property which are subject to a Tree Preservation Order
- details of any planning enforcement notices
Water and Drainage Search
We routinely carry out a search with the local water and drainage supplier. Their Water and Drainage search provides the following confirmations:
- that the property is connected to mains water
- whether or not there is a water meter
- that the property is connected to mains foul sewage
- whether the property is connected to mains surface water drainage (or whether this might be a soakaway)
- the route of water mains and drains/sewers in the immediate vicinity of the property (which can be useful if you are planning an extension)
Unlike a Local Authority Search and a Water and Drainage Search, an Environmental Search is not one of the searches that mortgage lenders insist upon.
An Environmental Search is prepared by a private search company and will provide a post-code based analysis of the following matters:
- whether the property is built on land which is likely in the past to have been used for industrial or other contaminative uses
- whether the property is built on land which may be prone to flooding
- whether the property may be prone to Radon (a gas which naturally occurs in certain types of rock)
- whether there are any telephone masts or overhead power lines in the vicinity of the property
A popular misconception is that a Local Authority Search will provide details of planning applications that have been made or granted in the vicinity of the property. In fact, a Local Authority Search will only give details of planning applications that relate to the particular property that is being searched.
A planning search will provide you with details of the planning applications that have been made (even if planning consent has not yet been formally granted) for any properties within a 500 metre raduis of the property. It can be very useful in not just identifying whether a large supermarket is about to built around the corner, but also showing whether your new neighbours are about to carry out a loft conversion.