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One way that we do this is to carry out numerous searches on the public registers.

The main types of searches which we carry out against a property are:

Local authority search

The local authority search tells us, amongst other things, if the property is accessed by an adopted highway or has financial charges registered against it. The local authority search will state whether the property is a listed building, in a conservation area or subject to a tree preservation order. The local authority search also reveals the planning history and whether there are any proposed traffic schemes within a certain radius of the property.

Water and drainage search

The water and drainage search will reveal whether the property is connected to the mains water and sewage systems. The water and drainage searches should give plans indicating the whereabouts of the mains systems and should also reveal whether the property is metered or not.

Coal authority search

If the property is in an area recognised as being a past coal mining area, a coal authority search is carried out to find out if there are any shafts within the boundaries of the property, when coal was last taken and whether any claims for subsidence have been made in the past.

Environmental and planning searches

Environmental and planning searches are made against the postcode of the property and will reveal the history of the area in which the property is built. It will also detail any landfill or other waste disposal sites for example, within a certain radius of the property. An environmental and planning search will also advise as to any flooding or other environmental issues. The planning search result provides you with a ten-year snapshot of planning applications made within a radius of 500 meters around the property. It also provides you with general planning information for the area.

Bankruptcy search

When you buy property with the aid of a mortgage, the lender will insist that we carry out a bankruptcy search against you to check that you are not bankrupt. The bankruptcy search may reveal an entry which has been made against another person with the same surname. If this happens, we will send the search to you to ask you to certify that the entry does not relate to you.

Land Registry search

We carry out a Land Registry search to ensure that the registered title offered by the seller’s solicitors at the beginning of the transaction has not been added to.

Why do local search costs vary?

Each local authority in England and Wales has the power to charge a relevant fee for the local searches that they provide. Some authorities charge £75.00 whilst others charge £250.00. The fees are reviewed annually.

How long do searches take to do?

Most local authorities return the results of searches within 10 working days. Some authorities easily beat this timescale, others can take up to three weeks to return a search.

Water and drainage searches take about five days and environmental and planning searches less than 24 hours, coal authority searches are turned around by the coal authority in two to three days. We can receive instant results for bankruptcy and HM Land Registry searches.

When do I pay the legal fees for searches?

We ask for £250.00 to cover the cost of searches in relation to the purchase of property and £50.00 to cover the cost of obtaining copies of your title and any planning permissions in relation to a sale. These sums are payable immediately and any surplus is credited to your account. We do have the facility for these particular fees to be paid by credit card.

All other fees and disbursements (including stamp duty) are payable after the exchange of contracts but before completion.

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