Information Regarding Searches
In a conveyancing purchase, the four standard searches carried out are:
Local search – is a search at the local authority which reveals whether the road is adopted, any planning entries, whether the property is in an area affected by radon gas, any proposed road schemes, whether the property is a listed building, whether or not it is in a Conservation Area, whether there is a grant to be repaid and whether the Council have issued any enforcement notices over the property, amongst other things.
This search is mandatory if you are having a mortgage. If you are a cash buyer, you may opt not to have this (or any pre-exchange searches carried out) but this will always be against our advice.
The search will only reveal entries against the property you are purchasing. If you wish to know what planning applications have been made in the neighbourhood, a separate ‘Plan Search’ can be obtained at an additional cost.
Water and drainage search – is carried out to determine whether the property is connected for mains water and foul and surface water sewerage. It will contain a plan showing the position of the nearest public sewer. This is important as sometimes these are situated within the boundaries of the property. A public sewer should not be built over without consultation with the water authority and access to the sewer may be required by the water authority from time to time.
Chancel liability search
The law relating to liability to contribute to the repair of the chancel in a parish church underwent a change in October 2013. As time passes, it will not be necessary to carry out a chancel repair search in all cases. However in the meantime, the Church of England is still entitled to register its entitlement to collect contributions for the repair of chancels on many properties. For this reason a search will be carried out on most of the purchases we deal with for the present time or indemnity insurance will be obtained instead.
If the local authority discover that land on which a property is situated is contaminated, they will require it to be ‘cleaned up’. If the polluter can be traced, then they will be required to pay for the cost of the clean-up. However the contamination may have occurred many years ago and it may not be possible to trace the polluter. In this case the local authority will require the owner of the land to pay for the clean-up. The cost may run into many thousands of pounds. The search result will either consist of a certificate indicating that it is unlikely to be classed as contaminated land, or alternatively will indicate potential problems and the remedy can be negotiated with the seller.
Sometimes additional searches have to be carried out because of the geographical location of the property. For example a coal search will be required in mining areas. Other area specific searches include Cheshire Brine and metallurgical searches (the latter principally in Cornwall).
If the property to be purchased is in a rural area or one surrounded by open land, a commons registration search will be undertaken to ensure that the property is not ‘common land’.
For commercial properties, more extensive searches may be carried out.
Barrass White Legal
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