When you purchase a house, the solicitor handling the transaction will submit a local search, which is a search of the records held by the Local Authority. This is normally carried out at the start of the conveyancing process and is paid for by the purchaser.
Once submitted, the results will usually be back within a couple of weeks, or sometimes quicker, depending on the Local Authority. The cost varies around the country, but is usually between £75-200. In this area, the cost of a local search with the Central Bedfordshire Council is around £133. Searches are deemed to last for three months, although in reality they will be out of date as soon as any planning, road or other committee sits to consider any proposals that affect the property.
The Local Authority will look at their charges register for any existing obligations or restrictions on the owners of the property. They will also provide further information relating to the use of the property and responsibility for footpaths and highways.
What is included in the Local Search?
The Local Authority’s records will indicate:
• Are the highways adjoining the property 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; and
• Enforcement notices for violation of planning permissions.
What a Local Search Won’t Reveal
Local Authorities do not give any guarantees to 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. The search also does not cover surrounding properties.
If you have any concerns about developments that may be planned, because the property is next to unoccupied land or fields, you must let your solicitor know as soon as possible, so that they can make enquiries on your behalf.
Local searches will also not reveal details of any flooding or mining in the vicinity. You can find out more information on the Environment Agency’s website, or there are separate searches that you can carry out.
For more information about local searches and the conveyancing process, please contact our team on 01525 372140.
The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.
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