LEGAL SEARCHES – WHY DO WE NEED THEM
what-are-legal-searches

LEGAL SEARCHES – WHY DO WE NEED THEM

I can hear the collective groan at the dreaded words, legal searches, but are they misunderstood. If we know what they were for and what they did would we like them a little bit more and understand why they are so important?

Among many other things that have to be dealt with when we decide to buy or sell a house are the legal searches. What are the legal people actually searching for?

It is normally the buyer’s solicitor who is responsible for making the searches, unless alternatively  the seller could provide them in preparation for the sale. What is being looked for is a wide variety of information to ensure that the property you want to buy is free from any problems or issues.  As a result of the searches, an informed decision can be made to withdraw rather than incur problems with the property further down the line. On the other hand, if all the searches are clear and positive, you can go ahead and purchase the property knowing all is well.

Searches are a series of questions sent to various people, authorities and places which covering very specific enquiries about the property in question.

The searches include:-

  • Local authority searches
  • Land registry searches
  • Environmental searches
  • Water authority searches
  • Location specific searches
  • Chancel repair searches

Each of these legal searches are necessary if we want peace of mind when buying a property. Without these searches, mortgage providers will not make a mortgage offer. To say nothing of the fact that the results from these searches could bring up, unknown issues which could affect the value of the property if you are a cash buyer.

So what are each of these legal searches for?

LEGAL SEARCHES - WHY DO WE NEED THEM Express ConveyancingLAND SEARCHES

The requests for the information are sent to the local authority, who respond by providing an official certificate of search. There are two parts to the search, the first being the LLC1 and the second being known as a CON29 enquiry form. In fact it is these searches which are considered the most important.

The LLC 1 search contains all of the entries listed in the local land charges register which are made against the property you are looking to buy or sell. The point of this search is to reveal details such as tree preservation orders, whether or not the property is a listed building or any enforcement notices registered against the property. The results are very important as there could, in addition, be an enforcement notice of a breach of planning permission with details of the work needed to be undertaken to correct the breach.

The CON29 standard search information will reveal such things as;

  • any planning and building decisions and pending applications, whether or not the applications have been granted, issued or refused.
  • whether the property has all of its building regulation certificates or notices in respect of works carried out.
  • if there is building regulation completion certificate, mortgage lenders will insist on this, particularity if it is a relatively new house.
  • Besides all of this information, it reveals any development plans in the area, which could affect your view of the property if there is nearby, for example, a large housing project nearby in the planning stages.

The CON29 search also reveals any roads and public rights of way which may affect or be relevant to the property. Additionally, other information which may affect the property such as nearby road schemes, nearby railway or traffic schemes, outstanding notices against then property could also be revealed. The latter includes such things as notice of coastal erosion which if the property is near the sea is of paramount importance.

Other important information supplied through the CON29 search could be if there is a local authority notice of a planning contravention, or a preservation order against the property. How would you feel if the search revealed that the property was in a conservation area which as a result gives restrictions against the property? Or a compulsory purchase order which has just been filed.

LAND REGISTRY SEARCHES

 It is quite amazing how much information is held against a property and it surrounding area.

 A land registry search, which is sent to the HM Land Registry, contains all of the documents which details all of the information held about the property.

These documents are the, Title Register, Title Plan and if the property is leasehold details of the lease and the lease plan.

The title document sets out the information of who owns the property and exactly what is included with it. The title plan shows the same information but in an illustrated form. Besides all of that it also details any restrictive covenants or easements held against the property and/or restrictions which could affect the property. An example of an easement could be the right of the electricity company to come onto the property to inspect power lines.

This document is the absolute and only document which proves ownership of the property.  Above all no other document will be accepted, by the mortgage lender in respect of registered property.

ENVIRONMENTAL AND WATER AUTHORITY SEARCHES

The results from the environmental search can tell you if the property has been used, in the past, for anything which may have caused contaminated land. Also what it will reveal is if there is any contaminated land in the nearby area.

Furthermore this search will identify if there has been a landfill, waste or other industrial  sites nearby and if there was any question of any earlier contamination.

A more recently important issue, raised over the last few years, this search will reveal if the property is considered to be in a flood plain. This can have a very adverse effect on the ability to insure a house against flood damage. It could in certain circumstances prevent a mortgage being offered.

A water authority search actually combines a water and drainage search. Known as a CON29DW and is one of the more newly introduced searches. Only introduced in 2002, it was previously included as part of the local authority search information. However, since water responsibilities were separated from local authority control it has become and extra responsibility for the legal people.

The value of this CON29DW is the provision of the most up to date information on the property’s water supply and sewer connections. It includes information on whether or not the property is fitted with a water meter and the current billing arrangements.

LEGAL SEARCHES - WHY DO WE NEED THEM Express ConveyancingLOCAL AND CHANCEL REPAIR SEARCHES

Location specific legal searches are not always thought necessary but in instances where mining has taken place in the area your lender will require it.

The final search to mention is a Chancel Repair search, it is an absolute throw back to the middle ages. Following a number of serious litigation cases, it is now considered a must for older properties. Since 2013, the law required churches to establish their rights of chancellery repair then lodge the liability with the land registry. Thus the element of surprise is now  limited. Before 2013 you could have owned a property for 50 years and find yourself served with a bill for repairing the local church steeple. There was one notorious case found against a property owner, who had no option, after much litigation, but to pay up costs of the repairs to the church ( Cantlow PCC -v-Wallbank ).

Now if a Chancel Repair search finds responsibility attached to a property, there is suitable insurance which can cover the liability at a reasonable cost.

HOW LONG DO THESE SEARCHES TAKE?

The time is dependant on a number of matters, most particularly where the property is. Often the results of the searches can take up to three weeks but differ widely between authorities. Also if your searches are requested in the height of the holiday season, when staff are on holiday, they may take longer than at other times.

Often the best way to speed up the length of time these searches take is to keep in touch with your solicitor/conveyancer and ask if they have put in the requests and remind him to chase up the replies.

If you require any further details on any of the legal searches noted above, please feel free to contact our team at Express Conveyancing who are happy to explain these to you.

What our clients say

Great value for money. Everything went smoothly and I was very pleased with the service provided
Rachel Whitfield
Rachel Whitfield
20:59 12 Oct 18
Excellent! Very responsive, and really helped to push the purchase. There were unexpected delays during the process, but Anthony really helped to reassure me that he was doing everything he could to progress the sale. Ultimately, it all worked out in the end, and I would highly recommend! I would also recommend for auction purposes.
Sean Stevens
Sean Stevens
09:14 21 May 18
Very happy customer. Understanding of our needs and recommended a really fantastic solicitor.
Jack Hearne
Jack Hearne
17:49 12 Oct 18
I have just completed the purchase of my flat with them. They were recommend by the estates agents Phillip Arnold and they were fantastic. My case was handled by Milena who was really helpful and always available on the phone. The online system is also really easy to use. If I buy or sell a property I will definitely be using them again.
Sharon Kelly
Sharon Kelly
18:27 20 Dec 17
I used this service following a recommendation. The online case tracker worked really well. I would recommend this service as it's vital in the coordination between Estate Agencies and between Solicitors. The service proved invaluable in helping progress the conveyancing work efficiently and effectively. Completed the transaction just before Christmas having instructed the Solicitors on the 4th.
Shelly Harrill
Shelly Harrill
16:30 19 Dec 17
Excellent Service. Final Price same as quoted.
A Google User
A Google User
14:26 19 Dec 18
Have used them twice. Both times completion happened in less than 4 weeks, even over Xmas! Totally amazing. They take the stress out of the whole process.
Daniel West
Daniel West
13:04 21 Dec 18
Excellent Service. Final Price same as quoted
Parsa Khamooshi
Parsa Khamooshi
15:54 21 Dec 18
Being a first time buyer they guided me smoothly through the whole process of moving into my first home. Very professional and economical.
Uday Seth
Uday Seth
12:31 24 Dec 18
Express Conveyancing have been excellent in the handling of my recent house sale and purchase. Would highly recommend
James Ellis
James Ellis
11:43 30 Apr 19
Express Conveyancing have been excellent in the handling of my recent house sale and purchase. Would highly recommend
Michelle Preston
Michelle Preston
12:20 30 Apr 19
ThanksThanks for handling my sale and purchase. No complaints from me. Rebecca was regularly on hand to help with my queries and deal with issues.
Claire Miles
Claire Miles
17:48 07 May 19
I bought my first home in South London with Express Conveyancing . Great professional service, I was regularly updated and looked after. Top marks, 100% recommendation from me!
Dale Griffiths
Dale Griffiths
15:58 02 May 19
Good service and happy with the conveyancer
Chris Jenkins
Chris Jenkins
22:01 17 May 19
Great service from start to finish. Was great being able to see progress online! Very quick and efficient! All staff were helpful. Highly recommend
Reece Moseley
Reece Moseley
06:20 30 May 19
I would highly recommend them. They deal with any queries promptly and efficiently. Would definitely use them again.
Sahar Dalini
Sahar Dalini
09:13 10 Jun 19
Fair prices good efficient service
Sue Batchelor
Sue Batchelor
18:46 01 Jun 19
I would highly recommend them. They deal with any queries promptly and efficiently. Would definitely use them again.
Sahar Dalini
Sahar Dalini
09:14 10 Jun 19
This company does not provide conveyancing services directly, they are an introductory company, paid by solicitors to get clients for them. Once you engage with a conveyancing solicitor suggested by them, they don't interfere, and how quick or slow the process is depends on that solicitor that paid them to recruit you. In our case the solicitor was pleasant and corteous, but a bit relaxed, and the whole process took about 9 weeks - about average, but there was nothing "express" about it.About the app to track progress, it is updated by the conveyancing solicitor, so its its usefulness depends on how much he engages with it. In our case, not so much.
Pedro Silva
Pedro Silva
18:27 02 Oct 19
Absolutely outstanding service provided by Rebecca. She really got things moving when they came to a halt. I was moved within 9 weeks. If it wasn't for Rebecca, the move wouldnt have happened that quick. Definitely use EC again in the future.
Sara Kawsar
Sara Kawsar
11:35 03 Oct 19
we purchased a new build flat. The staff at Express were very helpful in finding us our solicitors who was great.
Carl Devenport
Carl Devenport
14:48 26 Sep 19
great service. Completed quickly as promised
Mark Slavinski
Mark Slavinski
16:52 24 Sep 19
Was looking for a modern solicitor with an online website status page so you can live track your progress. The service was fast and they assigned us with a solicitor firm, which was very fast, efficient and pleasant to deal with. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Cedric Tomas
Cedric Tomas
21:29 13 Mar 20
Express provided me with an excellent firm (WYM Legal) and had a good portal for keeping me updated during the process. The portal did lack detail but nonetheless meant slightly less chasing.
Sarju Shah
Sarju Shah
10:50 11 Apr 20

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