Local searches are standard pre-contract requirements which must be done before purchasing a property.
These searches include a local land charges search (LLC1 form) and local authority enquiries (both compulsory enquiries on the Con 29 form and optional enquiries on the Con 29O form). They establish important information about the property which you are buying, such as obligations or restrictions associated with the land, and the current state of planning permission.
Many of these issues can only be discovered through the local searches and a failure to do so can lead to significant long term financial and personal difficulties.
It is important to note that the local searches only establishes the state of affairs at the time at which they are commissioned. They do not provide warning or protection against any subsequent changes to the legal status of the property. As a general rule, a local search which is more than six months old should not be relied upon.
Local Land Charges Search (LLC1)
Local land charges are restrictions and obligations associated with a piece of land. These can, among others, include:
A financial obligation to pay for maintenance work performed by the Local Authority or other body, such as highway repairs;
An obligation upon the property owner to make repairs;
Tree preservation orders;
Protection of listed buildings;
Whether a disability facilities grant has been given to improve the property; and,
Whether the property lies within a conservation area.
The local land charges search will establish whether any such charges apply to the property in question. The LLC1 is usually carried out at the same time as the Con 29 enquiry form.
Where a local land charge has not been submitted to the charges register, it will still remain enforceable against the property – though the owner of the property may be able to recover compensation due to the failure to register the charge.
Local Authority Enquiries (Con 29)
The Con 29 form includes a set of enquiries for the Local Authority relating to the property. The form is submitted to the appropriate Local Authority with the address of the property concerned. The Local Authority will then reply with a list of answers to the standard Con 29 enquiries.
These enquiries include:
Whether any planning permissions have been granted over the land;
The existence of any footpaths or other public rights of way; and,
Any building regulations which apply to the property.
Building regulations will include compliance with any requirements for a FENSA certificate for windows, an electrical compliance certificate, a HETAS certificate for hearths, fireplaces and chimneys, and a Microgeneration Certificate Scheme (MCS) certificate for solar panels.
The search will establish whether any roads or footpaths serving the property are public roads. If there are roads or footpaths serving the property which are not publically owned then rights of way may need to be established.
If the property is a new build then the search will also indicate whether any roads serving the property are subject to a section 38 agreement – where private roads surrounding the property become public roads after construction.
For a complete list of what the Con 29 form covers follow the link here.
To see a sample Con 29 form follow the link here.
Optional Enquiries to the Local Authority (Con 29O)
When purchasing a property there are a number of optional enquires which your solicitor should consider submitting to the Local Authority. These are contained in a Con 29O form which is supplementary to the Con 29. The Con 29O will incur additional fees though may be necessary to establish important information about the property before purchase.
Some Con 29O enquiries are relevant exclusively to rural areas, some to urban areas, and some may be relevant to both. These enquiries include a wide range of issues, such as:
- Whether the property is within a designated area of outstanding natural beauty or a National Park;
- Whether the property is within a noise abatement zone;
- Whether the property is within an urban development areas; or,
- Whether the Local Authority has given consent for the display of advertising in the area.
When purchasing a property you should consult your solicitor on which, if any, of the optional enquires should be submitted to the Local Authority. Further enquiries can be made beyond those on the Con 29 and Con 29O forms, though these will incur an additional fee per enquiry.
For a complete list of the enquiries which the Con 29O form includes follow the link here.
To see a sample Con 29O form follow the link here.
In almost all cases Campions Solicitors will conduct a Con 29O enquiry on your behalf, the fee for which will be £70.