Insight

Local Authority Searches

In property transactions, we will carry out numerous searches to reveal information about the property/land which is important for a buyer to know. The standard searches we carry out are the following: –

  • Environmental Search
  • Local Authority Search
  • Water & Drainage Search

In this article, we will be looking at the Local Authority search. For information on the Environmental Searches, please see https://axiomdwfm.com/what-is-an-environmental-search/.

Types of Local Authority Search and information included

There are two types of Local Authority Searches – ‘regulated’ and ‘official’.

Official searches are more in depth thus covering more content, but generally take longer to come back than the regulated search. However, not all lenders accept regulated searches. For these reasons, we will usually commission the official local authority search.

This search can reveal information about many aspects of the land but focuses on the following:

  • Planning applications and building regulations,
  • Enforcement and Liability Notices,
  • Road adoptions,
  • Road, Rail and Traffic Schemes,
  • Community Infrastructure Levy liability, and
  • Orders affecting the area.

These are discussed further below.

Planning applications & Building Regulations

This section of the search reveals planning applications and building regulations which are relevant to works which have been carried out at the property. If you are aware of any works at the property, make sure to let us know about these. We will then be able to determine whether planning permission and/or building regulations exists in respect of these works.

It is important that copies of documents are held and all requirements have been met with as notices can be served for breaches within the past 10 years. If the seller is unable to produce the relevant documents for works carried out, then we can ask for them take out an appropriate insurance policy.

Enforcement and Liability Notices

If any notices have been served by the Local Authority in relation to the property, it is important that we enquiry about these with the seller to make sure that actions have been taken to remedy and discharge these.

Road adoption

This section will inform you as to whether the roads surrounding the property have been adopted by the Local Authority – this means the relevant highway would be publicly maintained, i.e. not a private road. If there are private roads surrounding the property, we will need to investigate as to whether sufficient rights are in place to allow you to use such roads, and who is responsible for the repair and maintenance of the said roads.

Road, Rail and Traffic Schemes

This section identifies whether within the vicinity of the property there are any major rail or road scheme. A common result revealed under this section is usually that there are railway  schemes such as HS2, Crossrail 1 or Crossrail 2. Very rarely do the results of this section result in concerns – it is more for your knowledge and understanding.

Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL)

It may be possible that the local authority may have adopted a CIL Charging Schedule, this allows for them to raise funds from developers undertaking new projects in the area. If this is relevant to the transaction, we will enquire as to whether the seller has any liability and confirm that this has been settled. If there are existing CIL liability notices then these will also be revealed by the search.

Orders affecting the area

The results of the Local Authority Search will discuss other matters such as whether the property is in a Conservation Area. This is important if you are planning make any changes to the property as these may be restricted. The results will also notify you of any orders affecting the area – an example being Smoke Control Orders which restrict fires.

What if the search reveals an issue?

These searches will usually be carried out prior to exchanging contracts. This means that when you receive the results, you are under no obligation to complete the purchase. It is important to remember that if you are buying with a mortgage, your lender will need to know about anything which may impact their decision to lend.

Options include :

  1. Purchase the property subject to any risks identified (you can remedy these once you have become the owner),
  2. Discuss with the seller how you would like for these to be remedied and purchase the necessary steps have been actioned,
  3. Abort the purchase.

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