Local Authority searches are an essential part of buying a house and they are also required by mortgage lenders.
There are two parts to a local authority search – an LLC1 and a CON29. The LLC1 – Local Land Charge Register covers any charges or restrictions relating to land or property. These include whether the property is:
- a listed building
- located in a conservation area
- subject to a tree preservation order
- in need of an improvement or renovation grant
- or situated in a smoke control zone
This also covers any planning agreements and conditional planning permissions, Section 106 and 38 Agreements. All LLC1 registrations are legally binding on successive owners.
The second part of the search – the CON29 – supplies information relating to public highways, proposals for new roads, rail schemes or planning decisions that could affect the property, as well as outstanding statutory notices, breaches of planning or building regulations or the existence of a compulsory purchase order. Environmental factors, such as whether the house stands on contaminated land or in a Radon gas affected area are also revealed.
What’s the difference between official searches and personal searches?
There are two different types of local authority searches – official or personal. The ‘official’ method involves sending forms directly to the local authority where a search is conducted by council staff from the Local Land Charges Register. This is then signed and stamped by a council officer and returned to your solicitor. This is process we would recommend.
A personal local authority search is conducted by an external agency unaffiliated with the council and working ‘independently’ but from the same register. These searches can be quicker and cheaper than an official application and are covered by accuracy insurance policies as well as employer error liability. As a result, some conveyancing solicitors recommend personal searches, although debate within the industry still rages as to which is best.
Whether an official or personal search is done is often determined more by the mortgage lender. The conveyancing solicitor will have to check the Council of Mortgage Lender’s Handbook to see which searches the individual lender accepts.
What to watch for when you get a local search?
There are a few factors to consider before taking your Local Authority report at face value. Firstly, it is important to remember that local searches are often relevant to your property or street alone and might not cover developments located a short distance away (or even next door). Reports can vary, so always be sure to check the area remit of your search or make additional enquiries at your local council. For example, you can search most planning applications by postcode on the local authority website for the area in which you are buying. Planning proposals submitted after the search will not be covered.
Do I need to get a search if I’m a cash buyer?
Cash buyers do not necessarily have to have a local search but most conveyancing solicitors will recommend that they do. If the client elects not to carry out local authority searches then the conveyancer may recommend No Search Indemnity Insurance as an alternative or ask them to sign a disclaimer.
If you are looking at buying a new home, get in touch with our friendly residential conveyancing team on 01904 624903 and they will be happy to provide you with a no obligation quote.
- Conveyancing Update:I’m purchasing a property, should I worry about the Land Registry delays? - September 7, 2023
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- Conveyancing Update: Local Authority Searches - November 30, 2022