A closer look at Property Searches

When going through the home buying process your Solicitor/Conveyancer will carry out a range of searches relating to the property you are buying and the surrounding area. The main objective of the searches are to provide you with all the relevant information you require with regard to the property before fully committing to the purchase.  The reason for this is that the searches may highlight any planning or environmental issues which can result in additional costs for you which you have not accounted for.

The more common searches that are carried out are as follows;

Local Authority Searches

This search is made up of two parts which are submitted together. These may reveal a variety of issues and information about the property. Some examples of the information provided are;

  • whether or not planning permission has been granted for the property or any alterations undertaken to it;
  • whether or not the property is subject to any enforcement action for breach of planning;
  • road proposals or schemes (including road widening);
  • proximity to conservation areas and more;

Please note that the Local Authority Search is property specific and does not provide any details on the surrounding properties.

Environmental Search

This will include environmental information and highlight any potential risks which the local authority does not include.   It will show the historic use of the land the property is located on and will indicate if the land is contaminated from previous use. It will also show if the property is at risk from flooding.

Mining Search

In some cases it will be necessary to undertake a mining search against the property, depending upon where the property is located.  This tells you whether or not the property is within an area effected by past mining activity and may tell you of any mine shaft in close proximity to the property. This is a common search required in the Black Country area.

Water and Drainage Search

This search is used to confirm whether or not the property is connected to the mains water supply and whether it is connected to a public sewer, septic tank or other private disposal facilities. It will also highlight if there is a main sewer or water pipe running through the property boundaries which could be important if you are looking to alter or extend the property.

Chancel Liability Search

Chancel Repair Liability affects parishes in which there is a medieval church. Such obligations stem from mediaeval times where land, previously owned by the Church to fund the local rector, had been sold and the new owner took on the repairing obligation attached to that land. Basically, any property located within the boundaries of a Parish where such a liability exists could be “caught”. The penalty is financial in that it involves having to pay for the upkeep and repair of the chancel of the local medieval parish church.

From 13 October 2013 the law relating to liability for Chancel Repairs has changed.  In most cases the changes mean that a Chancel Liability Search is no longer required.

It is only necessary to undertake a Chancel Liability Search if the property you are buying:-

  • Has not been registered with the Land Registry; or
  • The deeds indicate the property is subject to a chancel repair liability charge.

For further details on searches you may require on your upcoming house purchase, or on any other property related matter,  please contact our residential property team at any of our offices.

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