Searches provide key information that is not available on the public register and may also not be known to the current owner.
We would always recommend that searches are considered, and it is worth noting that when taking out finance on any property deal, a lender is likely to require these.
Some of the main searches that we recommend are obtained if the circumstances call for it are set out below:
Local authority search and local land charges search
A local authority search reveals important information about the property and its immediate surroundings such as planning permissions and building regulation consents, proposals for road schemes, environmental and pollution notices and whether any part of the property is registered as common land or as a town or village green. However, it is worth noting that the search only reveals matters affecting the property being searched against and not any that affect neighbouring properties.
A search of the local land charges register highlights matters such as compulsory orders, tree preservation orders, planning enforcement notices and financial charges registered against a property. This search result only provides a snapshot of the register on the date of the search. Local land charges registered after the date of the search will still bind a property.
A highway search is undertaken to check whether the property abuts the local highway which is maintainable at public expense and that there are no strips of concrete or grass verges, for example, between the property and the road surface.
Drainage and water search
The drainage and water search reveals whether the property is connected to the mains water supply and mains drainage. The search can also reveal the location of public sewers within the boundary of the property, which could potentially restrict future development.
The environmental search can be used to establish the risk of the land being contaminated by collating information from regulatory bodies, floodplain data and a review of current and historic land uses.
If the local authority does determine the land to be contaminated and the party who caused or knowingly permitted the contamination cannot be found, then the current owner of the land may be required to remedy the contamination. This is important to ascertain before you purchase the property as it can be an expensive process to rectify. The search will also reveal if the property is within a radon affected area.
Flood risk search
A flood risk search can give a high-level assessment of the risk to the property from the four main types of flooding (river, costal, groundwater and surface water). The information is important to know before purchasing a property, as it can affect the value of the property and the terms of your building insurance.
Coal mining search
A coal mining search will reveal if the property is within an area of past, present or future coal mining. The search will also reveal if there are mine shafts on the property and whether there have been any mining activities that may cause subsidence.
Chancel repair search
A chancel repair search shows whether the owner of a property may be liable to contribute towards the cost of repairs to the local parish church.
If the search does reveal the property is located within a parish boundary subject to this liability, then we would recommend that a Chancel Repair Indemnity Insurance policy is obtained. Again, a funder is likely to require this if applicable.
The utilities search contains a package of searches including electricity and gas distribution searches, BT Telecoms search and a drainage and water search. We would recommend this search is undertaken if you are looking to develop the site, as it will reveal whether there are any connections to the electricity, gas, drainage and water which is crucial if you are looking to build a property on the land that is being acquired.