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When you buy a home in the United Kingdom, you’ll be greeted by many terms, concepts, and systems that may seem rather overwhelming to read at first.

Regardless of the type of house you’re buying, how much you’re spending, or the kind of area you’re looking at, the complexities and nuances of home purchases are bound to show themselves in one way or another. As you continue to do your research and prepare for your transaction, certain concepts will stand out in terms of unfamiliarity.

One such example of a relatively unfamiliar concept in the British homebuying process is Local Authority Searches. In times like these where restrictions have imposed difficulties on property transactions themselves, this particular process bears even more conditions one should be aware of.

Fortunately, it’s never too late to learn more about these key processes so that you have the smoothest transaction possible.

What Are Local Authority Searches?

Local authority searches are a critical part of the homebuying process that is crucial in ensuring the smoothness and success of your efforts.

Commonly associated with steps taken by a buyer’s conveyancer, these types of searches are mainly geared towards uncovering crucial information that is important to any purchasing party. Through the help of the data or facts that are uncovered with this process, you can have the necessary leverage to renegotiate your offer (or even rightfully pull out of a transaction).

Beyond buyer information and adhering to the concept of caveat emptor, local authority searches are crucial to a buying process because they’re required by mortgage lenders. Lending parties use the insights gained to determine whether or not lending out money for the purchase of such a property is too much of a risk and if the offered price is too high.

What’s Included in This Type of Search?

Standard local authority searches come in two different forms—a Local Land Charge Register search and a CON29 search. Let’s go over these key processes in further detail to best understand what you’ll end up getting into once it’s time to carry out your conveyancing processes:

Local Land Charge (LLC1) Register Search


This particular type of local authority search is a type of inspection that uncovers details regarding any charges or attendant restrictions relating to a land or property. Generally, this particular type of process is used to determine if the listing you’re purchasing is:

  • A listed building

  • Subject to a tree protection order

  • In need of an improvement or renovation grant

  • Located in a conservation area

  • Situated in a smoke control zone


With this form’s help, you’ll also be able to cover or find details on planning agreements and conditional planning permissions that may affect your experience with ownership. Additionally, it’s worth noting that all LLC1 registrations are legally binding on successive owners.

CON29 Search


Carried out alongside the LLC1 register search, the CON29 search is another integral part of local authority searches that provide insight into public projects’ potential involvement concerning a property.

With this type of search, it supplies information relating to public highways, rail schemes, planning decisions, or proposals for new roads that could affect a property. Conversely, CON29s also help provide information on outstanding statutory notices, breaches of planning or building regulations while shedding light on the possible existence of a compulsory purchase order.

Beyond public projects, CON29s are an integral part of local authority searches because they provide necessary insight on various environmental factors concerning a house. Such examples include indications of whether a house stands on contaminated land or is situated in a Radon gas-affected area.
 

What Isn’t Included in a Local Authority Search?

When it comes to understanding the full purpose of a local authority search, it’s also important to be mindful of the various reports and details that aren’t covered by the standard local authority search. Here are the various processes that aren’t included in the process in question (and are therefore subject to extra fees):
 

  • Environmental Searches: These searches are used to determine a risk of flooding and the proximity of any waste sites or potentially contaminated areas.

  • The CON29 (O) Optional Form: This component deals with applications on roads proposed by private bodies, completion notices, land maintenance notices, and environmental and pollution notices.

  • Chancel Repair Reports: This type of report is used to determine if your property is liable for church repair contributions (which is admittedly rare).

  • Weather Authority Searches: These types of searches shed light on the presence of any public sewers within the boundaries of a property that could be impacted by any future building or development projects.

Given the list of searches mentioned above that aren’t included in a local authority search, it’s vital to understand that the need for them isn’t always present. The fact remains that your conveyancing solicitor or mortgage lender will ultimately determine whether or not you’ll need to conduct the above-mentioned processes!

Two Classifications of the Process in Question

Currently, local authority searches can be broken into two particular forms:

1. Official Local Authority Searches

This type of method mainly involves the need to send forms directly to local authorities. Once the forms are received, searches are conducted by an authorised professional—such as a council staff from the Local Land Charges Register. Upon completing the searches and their corresponding documentation, provided forms and certificates are then signed and stamped by a council officer and returned to your conveyancer.
 

2. Personal Local Authority Searches

The main definition of a personal local authority search is that it’s a type of process which is conducted by an external agency that is:
 

  • Unaffiliated with the council in official searches

  • Working “independently” from the same register

Compared to official local authority searches, these types of processes—in many cases—are much quicker and cheaper than an official application. These searches are also covered by specific information accuracy insurance policies and employer error liability, which bears more benefits that home buyers or buying parties can look forward to.

Currently, many conveyancers—such as those with Conveyancing Calculator—recommend personal local authority searches because of their lower cost and lower rates of error. Fortunately, the accuracy and standards of the reports generated with this type of process have both risen significantly and are now capable of yielding various critical benefits, such as:
 

  • Greater levels of control

  • Better accountability and flexibility than council searches

  • Improved financial savings

  • Improved time-efficiency

Conclusion

One of the most critical processes that you’ll need to undertake when purchasing a property in the United Kingdom is the ever-important local authority search. By keeping the key points mentioned above in mind, you’ll be able to ensure that you approach the process in question from the most informed standpoint possible!

Are you looking to streamline your home buying process without taking any unnecessary risks along the way? Check out our conveyancing fees calculator today to get the best and most accurate results from our team of fully regulated and trained professionals!

 

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