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Local and Other Searches
Pre-Contract Searches

Local Search and Enquiries are a series of standard questions, put to the Local Authority about a property. The answers might reveal all sorts of things; from an intention to demolish the house, to who must maintain the sewers. Nearly all searches reveal little, and do not guarantee very much, but what is occasionally revealed makes all local searches worthwhile.

Searches have a limited scope. They will not, for example, revealing planning applications relating to neighbouring land, nor the details of a planning application, or whether a newly built house accords with the permission under which it was built. They cannot reveal decisions which a local authority may be about to make. If you have any particular questions or concerns about the property, you must let us know as soon as possible, so that we can take it up with the local authority.

If, as a seller you have asked us to carry out a local search, to save time, then make sure you tell your buyer, so he does not arrange one himself. Searches will not usually be relied upon after three months, (this can be extended with an insurance policy), and we do not normally recommend to sellers that they carry out a search. If you have a buyer no time will be saved, and if you do not, then you do not know whether it will have expired before one is found.

If you are buying, we will first check if your seller has done a Local Search, and if not, ask your permission to do the search immediately. Again you may have questions which the local authority may be able to answer. If so, you must tell us straightaway.

The basic search costs start at around £105.00 and vary for each local authority. Additional fees are also charged for further questions. Sometimes we can arrange a search by an agent at a lower fee.

The local water company, has taken back responsibility for replying to enquiries relating to their services. We must now carry out a separate and additional search with them which will cost a further £27.35. [Searches done by an agent usually include a water search]

Coal Mining Searches. For many properties it is also necessary to carry out a coal mining search. This search tells us whether or not, for example, further coal mining is expected near the property, and whether there is a record of coal mining activity in the area.

One last reminder. All searches are limited in what they reveal. If there is some particular aspect of the property about which you are concerned you must tell us. It is better the earlier you tell us, but tell us any time.

Please let us have the sum of £125.00 on account of the cost of these searches. We will not be able to undertake the searches until this has been received.

Environmental Searches

In recent times, our governments have at last complied with European Directives to make available to us all information about thehistory of our land. When new houses are built, this must often take place on land which has formerly used for industry. Such industry will often leave behind traces in the form of metals. Every now and then such elements will be perhaps poisonous. Environmental searches go some way to revealing the realsituation. We are always likely to recommend such searches for new properies, and probably also for hous erected within the last twenty years. Sometimes we will have personal knowledge of the land sufficient to know that any former use was benign.

Jan 2003

One interesting case. We had a title to sell. It looked odd, but not greatly more so than some others. The solution was eventually found in a land charge when the buyer received the results of his local search. A scheme of leasehold covenants had been registered as a land charge by a judge in an almost forgotten court action. I had never come across anything like it. In th efilm Jaws, the hunters sit in the boat exchanging stories about how they got various battle scars. Conveyancers do something similar (well almost similar). This particular story is met with incredulity and something which might have been sympathy were it in anyone but a lawyer, from other conveyancers. Not one I have spoken to had ever heard or had a nightmare about any such thing.

Local Searches do occasionally cause a stir.

Important: Please note that our law-bytes are retained for archival purposes only. The law changes, and these notes are often, now, out of date. You must take direct advice on your own personal situation and the law as it currently stands.
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Copyright and Database Rights: David Swarbrick 2012
18 October 2013 2 18 October 2013