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What are Local Authority Searches?

Conveyancing is a lengthy process of transferring the titles of a property from one person to another. The funds involved are no small amount, so you must be prudent every step of the way. Be it a residential property or a commercial property you must ensure that the conveyancing process includes detailed Local Authority Searches of all relevant matters. These searches will reveal the true value of the property and will  help you make an informed decision, be it positive or negative. Hence, Local Authority Searches are vital cogs in the conveyancing process.

Local Authority Searches

Local Authority Searches are conducted to learn about the property in greater detail. These searches are exhaustive and will reveal all the information affecting the property. Generally, the data is collected from the Local Council. The search is either conducted by the Local Authority, Borough or private agencies.

Main Parts of a Search

There are four main parts in every Local Authority Search that is made.The LLC1 is considered to be the most important as it provides all the essential details from the Local Land Charges Register.

Con29

Con 29 Required or Con29 as it is commonly referred is the next important part. This section will provide information on other details such as the history of building control, any restrictions or regulations, property planning, grants , rights,  nearby road plans, occurrence of mines, radon gas issues, contaminated land etc. Generally, this search covers abourt13 areas associated with a property. These two parts together is generally called a Standard Search or Basic Search.

Con29 Optional

You can also make enqueriesor conduct searches regarding the rights of way in the property, or check whether the property includes an area with outstanding scenic or natural beauty, if any pipelines are passing through the property or regarding pollution etc. There are 18 optional questions provided in the Con29 Optional form, which is commonly referred to as Con29O.

Additional Questions

You can also raise any questions that seem to be relevant to you, regarding the property. This set of questions along with those mentioned in Con29O, will be charged with an additional fee.

The searches can be conducted in two different ways:

  • Official Local Authority Search
  • Personal Search

Official Searches

This is the most authentic way to conduct a search. In this method, the search is conducted by the official trained staff of your Local Council. This will be a small team of officials who maintain the Local Land Charges Register.  They are the ones who conduct property searches when required. Most of the local authorities will not take more than a week to complete these searches. There are many benefits in conducting an official research. One of the most striking points is that if you find that something has not been done right or has been overlookedyou can go directly to the authoritative source for explanation.

The search results of the official searches will have the official logo of the Council. An official search certificate signed by the officer will also be provided along with the result. Only the Local Authority has the power to make and sign such a Search Certificate, hence, it is enhances its authenticity. The local authority provides an open-end full indemnity insurance, which safeguards you against any errors or issues that may crop up. But the occurrence of random errors is very rare.

Personal Searches

Personal Searches can be conducted by any person. But, people generally approach private organisations, especially conveyancing law firms, which will conduct these searches on behalf your behalf. In a personal search too, information is gathered from the Local Land Charges Registers at the council offices.

Apart from this, they check almost all accessible public records. One of the main problems associated with this is that  these records are located in different places and collecting the data is not an easy task. They are also free to refer the websites of the council or the minutes of different committees. Most information can be gathered free of cost, while payments will have to be made for collecting some of the data.

Like Official Searches, Personal Searches also provide insurance. But, in most cases, they are partial or conditional. Hence, make sure you read through the conditions carefully and confirm they cover all your requirements.

The personal searches are much cheaper when compared to official searches. But when it comes to accuracy, official searches are always a step ahead. The final choice is your, but experts often recommend conducting an official search.

How much does it cost?

Local Authority Search costs vary from firm to firm. Hence, make sure you check whether the fee is fixed or not. The fee will be mentioned in the conveyancing quotes provided by your law firm. It is always better to opt for fixed fee. At Phew! we give you a fixed fee quotation. That is, even if the search cost goes beyond the quoted amount, we there will be no additional charges.

Photo courtesy: ReneS

Also read:
The significance of bankruptcy searches in conveyancing
Why is a priority search essential in conveyancing?

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