Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Local Authority Search and why do I need one?
Essentially a Local Authority Search is a vital part of the conveyancing (Home Buying) process. They can reveal information that may lead you to renegotiate your offer or even withdraw altogether. They are always required by your mortgage lender.
A local authority Search comes in two parts, an LLC1 and a CON29.
The LLC1 is the Local Land Charges Register search which covers any charges or restrictions associated with the land or property itself. They can include the following:
Is the property listed?
Is it located in a Smoke Controlled area?
Is it in a conservation area?
Are trees subject to TPO's (Tree Protection Orders)?
Would you require a Renovation Grant?
It also looks at planning agreements and any conditional planning permissions. All of the LLC1 findings are legally binding on each successive owner, so you will inherit any issues that arise.
The CON29 provides information relating to Public Highways, and any proposed rail routes, planning decisions or new roads that could affect the property, as well as any breaches of planning permissions or building regulations, outstanding statutory notices or the existence of a compulsory purchase order.
A local Authority Search comes as standard in our Search Pack.
How long does a Local Authority Search Take?
Timescales for the return of a Local Authority Search can vary significantly across the country and be affected by the volume of transactions at any one time, how organised a Local Authority is and how readily they provide access to their records to Search Agents. Rather than just relying on Local Councils to provide their data, Property Searches Direct also deliver Regulated Local Authority Searches. These are Searches compiled by Search Agents, rather than Council Employees, who will visit the Local Authority to personally review the Local Land Charges Register and report on their findings. The findings are covered by an information insurance policy for peace of mind. These Regulated Searches come as standard in our Search Packs however, we can deliver Council Sourced Local Authority Searches when requested to do so, invariably when their timescale is faster.
How can you get Searches Back quicker than anyone else?
We don't have a magic wand and cannot deliver searches any faster than anyone else, however, we are the only Search Company enabling Home Movers to buy Searches for themselves right at the start of a transaction, or, ordered by the Seller when they go to the market. As such, we are able to deliver the Searches, on average, 6.5 weeks earlier in the transaction as this is the average time it takes for a conveyancer / solicitor to order them for you. (Statistic stated by the Conveyancing Association in October 2020)
What other Searches are obtained?
As well as a Local Authority Search, there are a number of other Searches that are obtained. These can include the following:
Drainage & Water Search
Ground / Mining Search
Chancel Search or Chancel Indemnity Insurance
What is a Drainage & Water Search and do I need one?
A Drainage & Water Search is a compulsory part of the Conveyancing process when purchasing with a mortgage. It is also good to obtain when you are not buying with a mortgage as it will help you to know whether the property is safe from leaks, floods or damp caused by public waterways and drains. The report will indicate whether any public sewers or mains drains run within the boundary of the property. This may lead you to request that the drains are inspected prior to you inheriting the responsibility. Many Solicitors will not request a Drainage & Water report on a New Build Property Purchase as the information is usually presented by the developers legal representative as part of the contract pack. These Searches come as standard in our Residential Search Pack but not our New Build Pack.
What is an Environmental Report?
An Environmental report will give you a better understanding of the risks being imposed on a property as a result of its location, some of which can adversely affect the property value and insurability and so are useful things to know when offering on something.
These can include:
Contaminated Land - offering peace of mind that the land that the property is built on is free from contamination that can seriously affect value and mortgage-ability
Flood Report - better to know whether the property is at risk of flooding from rivers, coastal waters or surface water and ensure that Insurance is available and affordable. You don't want to be getting your feet wet watching TV.
Ground Stability - Is the property at risk of mineral extraction activity or in an area where properties have suffered from movement? (Man-Made (Mining) or Natural factors (Geological))
Radon - Is the property located in a Radon infected area? Radon is a Radioactive Gas occurring naturally in rocks and soils. It can't be seen, felt, heard or tasted, but is a major cause of lung cancers.
Energy & Infrastructure, looking at HS2, Solar and Wind Farm Installations, present and planned
Other Influential Factors - is the property affected by restrictions as a result of Sites of Specific Scientific Interest, Special Protected Areas, Ramsar Sites, National Parks and many more.
We recommend that Home Buyers purchase a EnviroSearch Residential report from us prior to instructing a Solicitor with the purchase, as it will give them a good understanding of what they are looking to buy and whether they wish to proceed at the price they have offered. They come as standard in our Residential Search Packs.
What is a Ground Report?
The TerraFirma Ground Report is a best-in-class ground risks and liabilities report designed to enable Home Buyers to better identify, manage and resolve ground hazards.
The report identifies and interprets the risk to property from all man-made and natural ground hazards, providing you with all the information about potential exposure of the property to ground risk.
Man-made hazards related to the UK’s extensive and varied mining heritage can pose significant risk to property, with the potential to cause subsidence and in extreme cases, collapse.
As standard, Terrafirma’s Ground Report includes an official CON29M and integrated Mine Entry Interpretive Report where applicable, saving you approximately £150 when a Coal Mine Entry is identified within 20 metres of the property and speeding up the property transaction.
The UK’s history of mineral extraction goes far beyond coal, and the risk from historic mining and extraction of metalliferous minerals, limestone, chalk, gypsum, clay and brine, to name just a few, are also considered by the Ground Report, ensuring your potential exposure to all mining related risk is thoroughly assessed.
Importantly, the Ground Report also considers risk from natural hazards like clay-related subsidence, landslip, natural sinkholes, and radon exposure which all have the potential to expose you to physical property damage, emotional stress and financial loss.
Reports like this are a relatively recent risk mitigation solution. Many homeowners themselves will not be aware of the risks posed to their own properties which is why we believe that getting a Ground Report is vital to ensuring that you are not agreeing to buy a property at risk of collapse due to historic mineral extractions of any description.
The Ground Report comes as standard in our Search Packs.
What should I do next?
If you are looking to commit to a purchase and start spending money on Surveys and Solicitors, you should also consider getting your Searches ordered to obtain better insight of any environmental impacts that may adversely affect the property as well as understand what it is built on.
These would normally be ordered by your Solicitor / Conveyancer but in several weeks time from the point of sale agreed due to the processes that they are required to follow. By taking control of your Searches at an early stage, you will avoid inevitable delays later in the conveyance.
There are many factors to consider that may also influence your decision to proceed with a purchase of a home or investment property: Flood, Radon, Ground Stability (natural or man-made), Contaminated Land and other restrictive factors that may affect your decisions.
By knowing the answers to some of these factors earlier, you will either be provided with peace of mind, evidence to re-negotiate the purchase price, or withdraw your offer altogether.
Your Solicitor would ordinarily only order these products when they get a contract pack from the people you are buying from, but you are unlikely to see the contents until much closer to an exchange of contract, which is a lot of wasted time and expense if you are not happy with the findings within the reports.
Check your property postcode in our Hazard Checker to see what risks present themselves in the postcode area. Our Search Pack contains an EnviroSearch Residential Report as well as a Ground Report which between them will cover these risks.