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What is a local search and what will it reveal?

Napthens - November 28th 2018

The local search is usually obtained alongside other searches, such as a water and drainage search and environmental search as part of a search pack. The information for a local search is held by the local council.

It is important that the local search is obtained quickly when buying a property, as it can reveal various entries, some of which, may need to be investigated further.

Examples of the type of information revealed by a local search:

  • Whether the road is adopted by the Local Authority and is maintained and repaired at the Local Authority’s expense. This search will also identify any accessways/roads in the vicinity that may not be adopted, together with identifying any public rights of way.
  • Any Planning Permissions/Building Regulations Compliance records will be highlighted in this search. For example, if works have been completed at the property recently and have not been recorded/highlighted in the search, enquiries will need to be raised with the seller’s lawyers to clarify the position. Buyers are usually wary to proceed until it can be established that the works have been “signed off” by the Local Authority or confirmation is provided that sign off was not required.
  • The local search also confirms whether there are any financial charges attached to the property from the Local Authority (if they have done any works, cleared infestations or the like). If there are financial charges, these belong to the property and not the individual and would therefore become the buyer’s responsibility.
  • The search will also reveal whether the property is situated in an area affected by a Smoke Control Order under the Clear Air Act 1956. This means that the property is within a smokeless zone and open fires or boilers may only be used if smokeless fuel is burned.
  • A Local Search can also reveal whether the property is a Listed Building. If so, this may restrict development for any potential buyers – It is an offence to carry out specific works without obtaining Listed Building consent.
  • Entries will be revealed if a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is in existence. If a TPO is in existence, it is important that the buyers have sight of this, to at the very least, identify the location of the tree.
  • The search will also confirm whether the property is within a Conservation Area or whether any order has been made to compulsorily purchase or acquire the property.

So, what happens if issues are raised?

If issues are revealed then it is the responsibility of the lawyer to raise questions with the seller’s lawyer and in some matters, rectify the issues raised.

In some cases, lengthy investigations have to be undertaken to ensure that the buyers and their mortgage lenders will be protected.

The Local Search is an important document and to save any delays, it is always beneficial that buyers instigate the searches as soon as ever possible.