Local Authority Conveyancing Searches Explained

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RESOURCES - Conveyancing:
During the purchase of a property a conveyancer will carry out a number of searches on behalf of his client. The most important conveyancing search is the local authority search.
This is carried out either with the local council directly or with a specialist conveyancing search provider.
The purpose of the local authority conveyancing search is to reveal any information which the local authority holds about a property such as planning records, building regulations consents etc.
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How is the Local Authority Conveyancing Search Carried Out?

If carried out directly with the council, the local authority conveyancing search is applied for using two forms, LLC1 and CON29R. This is because it has two parts. The LLC1 is a search of the local land charges records for the property and the CON29R is a list of standard enquiries of the council.

If using a specialist conveyancing search provider you will usually apply online. The cost varies from council to council but will be around £100 - £200, perhaps more in London.

What Will the Local Authority Conveyancing Search Reveal?

The LLC1 will reveal any local land charges registered against the property. The local land charges register is split into 12 parts. Most, such as fenland way maintenance charges, are quire obscure but there are a few particularly important ones. These are planning charges, general financial charges, specific financial charges miscellaneous charges.

The planning charges register will reveal any planning permissions which have been applied for in respect of the property and will say whether they were granted or refused. It will also reveal any enforcement notices issued by the council in respect of a breach of planning rules. The general and specific financial charges registers will reveal any financial charges imposed by the council against the property for things such as work they have had to do (unblocking a private sewer for public health reasons, boarding up an abandoned property for safety etc). These charges will usually have to be repaid to the council when the property is sold or else they will bind future owners. The miscellaneous register will reveal anything that doesn't fit another category such as smoke control orders and orders limiting permitted development rights (Article 4 Directions).

The second part of the local authority conveyancing search, the CON29R, answers questions about whether the roads are public roads and maintained at public expense (i.e. whether they are adopted highways), whether the council have been notified of any building work at the property for building regulations purposes and a number of other questions.

Do I Actually Need a Local Authority Conveyancing Search?

The local authority conveyancing search is important and if you are getting a mortgage the lender will insist on it. If you are buying cash then it is up to you to decide but bear in mind that any information that would be revealed by a search is deemed to be within your actual knowledge, even if you didn't actually know about it because you didn't order a search. This means that if you suffer a loss as a result of something the seller was aware of but did not disclose to you but which would have been revealed by a local authority conveyancing search, you will have a hard time suing him to recover the loss.

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