Conveyancing Searches

Our Guide to Conveyancing Searches

What are Conveyancing Searches?

Searches are enquiries that are made when purchasing a property. The enquiries are made with the authority direct and they will charge a fee for providing the information.

Below is a list of possible searches available and not all will apply in all cases. They are categorised into those that are generally required when buying with a mortgage, those that are optional and those that are specific to a particular area in the UK.

What searches do I have to have if I am buying with a mortgage?

The following searches will need to be instituted if you are buying with a mortgage. Even if you are not buying with a mortgage, we would recommend you carry out these searches since they reveal adverse issues about which you will remain unaware if they are not instituted.

Local Authority Search

This search is made to the Local Authority of the property being purchased. For instance, the Local Authority for the centre of Nottingham is Nottingham City Council. Amongst other issues this search will show:

All planning matters

This would include planning matters made in recent years and the result of the applications, building regulations applications and any enforcement proceedings for breaches of any planning or building regulations.

Roads

It will tell us whether the roads around the property are public roads or not. It will also tell us whether there are any road schemes within 200 meters of the property and will give details of traffic schemes.

Contaminated Land

It will give details of any entries in the property register. However, it will not give a full report and if this is a concern you should opt for an Environmental Search (see below).

Railways and Tramlines

It will give details of any proposed railway or tram schemes within 200 metres of the property.

Compulsory Purchase Orders

It will give details of whether the property is subject to Compulsory Purchase, which means that the Local Authority could order that you vacate the property (in exchange for compensation) for the purposes of planning or development.

Outstanding Notices

For instance, it will give details of whether a Repair Notice has been issued against the property. The result of which is that the owner of the property would have to pay for the repairs.

The fee for the Local Authority Search varies from area to area. We give details of the Local Authority Search fee, if this is required, when we provide a quote. This search is made direct to the Local Authority for where the property is located. The results are usually received within 1 to 2 weeks depending on the Local Authority.

Coal Mining Search – £33.60 inc VAT

This Search is made to the Coal Authority and will show whether the property has been mined under and if so when.

It will also give details of subsidence claims over the last 20 years. This Search is compulsory (in a former mining area) if you are buying with a mortgage or remortgaging. This is highly recommended by us however in such areas even if you are not buying with a Mortgage.

We rely on guidance from the Coal Authority as to areas require a Mining Search. This search is carried out online and the results are usually received within 24 hours.

Drainage Search (fee varies £45.60 in Severn Trent area)

This search will indicate if the property is connected to both the foul drainage and service drainage. We will also be sent a map showing the location of public sewers and the mains drainage. The fee for this search differs depending on which water company the search has to be obtained from. This search is carried out online and the results are usually received within 24 hours.

Land Charges Search (OS1) – £2.00 per purchaser

This search checks whether any of the purchasers have previously been registered as bankrupt and is compulsory when buying with a mortgage or remortgaging. This search is carried out online before completion.

Land Registry Search (OS1) £4.00

This search checks that no applications have been made to the Land Registry that could prevent the property being owned by the purchaser such as a Caution or Restriction.

What further searches can I choose to institute?

The following searches are not required when buying with a mortgage but can be instituted if desired.

Environmental Search

This search deals with issues of contamination, which can affect the value of the property. Also, if contamination is found after the property is purchased, the new owner will be responsible for any clean up costs. This search will therefore check:

  • The position of any registered Landfill sites;
  • The position of any stores of hazardous substances;
  • Any waste treatment sites
  • Any treatment of radioactive substances
  • Any regulated air pollution
  • Any pylons, masts or overhead transmission lines.

We strongly recommend you carry out an Environmental Search

The search company we use also provides protection should any issues arise that are not found on the search.

Home Environmental Liability Policy (HELP)

In addition, there is a special type of insurance policy which can cover any costs of clean up. This is called a Home Environmental Liability Policy. This can be purchased at the same time as the Environmental Search, after the search has been issued or instead or an Environmental Search. However, the premium is lower if it is purchased at the same time as the search and it is therefore cheaper. If you want to discuss this further then please contact us.

Chancel Check

This is an optional search. If your property is in a certain type of Church of England parish there may be a liability to make payment towards church repairs and these could be substantial. A Chancel Check will check this and if need be specialist insurance can be obtained. Please see www.clsl.co.uk for further details.

Flood Check

This is an optional search. According to the Environmental Agency, approximately 2 million properties are located in flood risk areas. A flood check reveals whether your property is at risk. If you have any concerns we would urge you to obtain a report.

Common Land Search (Commons Registration)

This search is usually made on land that has never been built on or which at one time may have belonged to a Lord of the Manor, a town or Village Green.

National Grid Search

This search provides details of any existing or proposed overhead or underground electricity equipment affecting the property and advises whether there is an electricity supply for the property, its location and capacity. If the property is not connected then the search will advise where the nearest available mains connections is and requirements in relation to provision of a future supply.

Radon Search

This search checks whether the property is a Radon affected area. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas which can be dangerous to humans.

Civil Aviation Authority

This search includes information on proposed developments in relation to aviation that may affect the property.

Are there any searches that are specifically recommended if buying in a certain area?

The following searches are recommended if buying in specific areas:

Cheshire

Cheshire Brine Search is required in areas of Cheshire where there has been salt mining.

Cornwall and West Devon

Tin Mining Search should always be carried out in Cornwall and West Devon. The search will provide details of past workings, which could cause subsidence.

China Clay mining has taken place around Cornwall and West Devon. The main Clay Mining areas are around St. Austell and Dartmoor. We recommend that any purchaser buying a property in these areas carry out a China Clay Search to determine whether the property is likely to be affected by clay deposits or if there is a risk of subsidence.

London

If necessary it is possible to have a London Underground Search in areas where underground lines are suspected or apparent. The information provided will include:

If there are any underground railway lines underneath the property or close enough to consider them to affect the property and if so the route and depth or the tunnels from the surface of the land.

Whether there are any proposals for the construction of new lines.

Whether or not there are any rights or liabilities that have been obtained over the land.

West Midlands

Limestone mining was common in the West Midlands in the past. We recommend a prospective purchaser of a property in an area affected by previous limestone mining carry out a Limestone Search to establish whether the property is likely to be affected by subsidence.

Do I need searches for remortgaging?

You may feel that because you are remortgaging and therefore not moving it is not necessary to conduct the usual searches. However, because your new lender does not have knowledge of your property, it can be part of the lender’s requirements that all necessary searches are conducted.

However, in some cases it may be possible to obtain a special legal insurance
policy which removes the need for Searches and this is estimated at approximately £30.00. This can only be assessed on an individual basis because each lender has their own view on whether such an insurance policy is acceptable to them. We will be able to tell you whether or not a Searches are necessary as soon as we receive the mortgage offer from your lender.

What Counties would a Mining Search be required in?

Generally speaking a Coal Mining Search will be required in the following counties:

Bristol
Cheshire
Cumbria
Derbyshire
Devon
Durham
East Riding of Yorkshire
Gloucestershire (including Forest of Dean)
Greater Manchester
Herefordshire
Kent
Lancashire
Leicestershire (but excluding Rutland)
Lincolnshire
Merseyside
Northumberland
Nottinghamshire
Shropshire
Somerset
Staffordshire
Tyne & Wear
Warwickshire
West Midlands
Worcestershire
Yorkshire (North, South, West)

When should I pay for searches?

We need payment for searches before we can issue them. Some people prefer to wait for the result of the Survey or to receive their mortgage offer so as not to waste money.

When do you carry out searches?

We will institute your searches as soon as we receive a plan of the property from your sellers’ Solicitors and the payment from you. The plan will enable the various authorities to identify the full extent of the property and this means that we can be sure that the whole of the property that you are purchasing is searched thoroughly.

How can I make a payment for searches?

Payment can be made by using the following methods:

  • Cash
  • Chip and Pin Debit Card (please allow 3 days for payment to clear)
  • Cheque (please allow 3 days for payment to clear)
  • Internet Banking (please notify us if choosing this payment).

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