A Guide to Conveyancing Searches

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Searches are necessary to discover if there are any issues affecting the property that need to be brought to the attention of the purchaser, or lender in a transaction or which could affect the value of the property.

When and how

Searches should be submitted either directly or via a search provider registered with the National Land Information Service (NLIS), a joint initiative between central and local government, as early as possible in a transaction. It can take several weeks for all search results to be received and should any issues be raised, it may take time for them to be resolved.

If results are needed quickly, it is usually possible to expedite them for an extra fee or to carry out certain searches in person. Searches should not be relied upon if they are more than three months old at the date of exchange of contracts.

What searches should be requested

There are many conveyancing searches that may be required depending on the type of property, its location, and if it is going to be developed. A lender may also have its own specific requirements as to searches. However, it is recommended that the following searches are performed on every property transaction:

Type of searchInformation provided
Local Land ChargesDetails of local land charges including:

  • planning and s106 agreement conditions
  • enforcement notices
  • compulsory purchase orders
Local Authority Search and additional questionsDetails of matters affecting the property or local area including:

  • planning consents
  • building regulations
  • completion notices
  • proposals for road schemes
  • environmental notices
  • railway schemes
  • roads and public rights of way
Drainage and water enquiriesInformation on water and drainage services to the property including:

  • connection to mains water and sewerage
  • surface water drainage
  • location of mains sewers
  • water charges
Official copies of the title and title planConfirms:

  • registered proprietor
  • the quality of the title
  • any rights, easements, restrictive covenants, charges and any other matters affecting the title.
Index MapIdentifies:

  • all titles relating to the property
  • pending applications
  • caution against first registration
HighwaysConfirms whether the property abuts the highway and what roads are adopted and publicly maintainable.
Chancel RepairIdentifies any liability to pay for chancel repairs attaching to former rectorial land.
Environmental desktop surveyAssesses the risk of the property being designated as contaminated land.

The results

When the results are available, your solicitor will check they are satisfactory and clarify any issues with the search provider or authority or through raising pre-contract enquiries. If necessary, a more detailed search could be commissioned, or insurance obtained if appropriate. If the issue cannot be resolved, it may be necessary to deal with it in the contract, by a price reduction or if significant the purchaser may decide not to proceed.

(The article was first published in the Professional Housebuilder and Property Developer.)