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What Are Conveyancing Searches?

Martha Lott

Written by Reviewed by Gareth Brooks

8th Nov 2018 (Last updated on 25th Aug 2022) 6 minute read

Conveyancing searches are a standard set of questions submitted to the relevant authority by your conveyancer.

They will reveal important information about the property and will be ordered at the beginning of the conveyancing process.

Property searches are made up of a local authority search, environmental search, water and drainage search and title search.

This article will cover the following:
  1. What Are The Main Searches?
  2. Local Authority Search
  3. Environmental Search
  4. Drainage and Water Search
  5. Title Search
  6. Less Common Conveyancing Searches
  7. Who Needs Conveyancing Searches?
  8. How Long Do Conveyancing Searches Take?
  9. How Much Do They Cost?
  10. What Can Delay Searches?
  11. How Long Does it Take to Exchange After Searches?
  12. Need More Information?

What Are The Main Searches?

The 4 main conveyancing searches usually come in a package deal and consist of:

  1. Local Authority Search
  2. Environmental Search
  3. Water and Drainage Search
  4. Title Search

The above searches will be ordered after you’ve instructed your conveyancer. In most cases, your conveyancer will apply for the searches on your behalf but in some circumstances, you can arrange to apply for them yourself as long as you check with your conveyancer that the proposed searches are compliant.

Local Authority Search

The Local Authority Search is an essential part of the conveyancing process when buying a house. It’s vital in learning key information that could be the deciding factor on whether you buy the property. Local Authority Searches are made up of two parts:

1. Local Land Charges Register Search (LLC1)

The first part of the Search is the local land charges register search (LLC1). This will be able to tell you:

  • If the property is a listed building or not.
  • If the property is located within a conservation or tree preservation area.
  • If the property is in a smoke control area.
  • The property’s conditional planning permissions.

2. Enquiries of the Local Authority (CON29)

The other part of the Search is the enquiries of the local authority (CON29). This will be able to inform you about:

  • The property’s planning history.
  • If there are any road or traffic schemes planned near the property.
  • The property’s building regulations history.
Learn More

Still curious? Click here to learn about local authority searches

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Environmental Search

An environmental search will let you know whether the property has been built on potentially contaminated land and will highlight if there is a flood risk.

Environmental searches will look at:

  • The history of the uses of land in the vicinity of the property.
  • Whether there are traces of toxic waste or radon gas nearby.
  • Identifying if there’s a flood risk in the area.
  • Identifying the risk of subsidence.
Learn More

Still curious? Click here to learn about environmental searches

Drainage and Water Search

A Drainage and Water Search will also be carried out by your conveyancer and will provide information on the location of sewers that serve the property It will confirm whether the property is connected to the mains water supply. It’s essential that your conveyancer carries out a Drainage and Water search to highlight any major issues before you commit to the sale.

Drainage and water searches will gather vital information on:

  • If the property is connected to the public sewage system.
  • If the property is connected to the public water supply.
  • How the property will be charged for its water supply.

Title Search

Title searches are made up of the Title register and the Title plan and are essential searches for buyers. They will confirm with the Land Registry that the seller is the legal owner of the property and whether they’re legally allowed to sell the property.

The title searches will provide information on:

  • Who currently owns the property.
  • Who previously owned the property.
  • How much the property was bought for.
  • If the property has any debt.
  • The location of the property.

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Less Common Conveyancing Searches

Local authority, environmental and drainage and water searches are the most popular conveyancing searches and can usually be purchased as a package from your conveyancer. However, depending on the area the property is in, your conveyancer may need to enquire about further information.

Flood Search

A flood search will inform you if the property and area are at risk of flooding. Your conveyancer will suggest a Flood Risk Indicator report which costs £9 from the Land Registry.

Learn More

Still curious? Click here to learn about flood searches

Chancel Repair Search

If there's a church near your property, a chancel repair search will find out whether you're liable for the church’s repairs and maintenance. Your conveyancer can order a chancel check search which costs about £20 plus VAT, or £100 for a full chancel search.

Learn More

Still curious? Click here to learn about chancel repair searches

Mining Search

If you are buying in a mining area, a mining search will provide vital information on the history of mining near the property and if this affects the house. Properties built on old mining grounds are at risk of a variety of costly issues, especially subsidence.

Learn More

Still curious? Click here to learn about mining searches

Who Needs Conveyancing Searches?

If you’re buying a house with a mortgage, then your mortgage lender will require your conveyancer to carry out searches as they will be securing the debt against the property.

If you’re buying a house with cash, then you can decide how many or how few conveyancing searches you have. It’s recommended to have conveyancing searches carried out as they'll highlight problems before you commit to the purchase. If any issues arise, you can decide whether or not to resolve them immediately or to pull out of the sale altogether.

How Long Do Conveyancing Searches Take?

Local Authority searches can take anywhere from 10 days to several months. Drainage and water, environmental, flood, mining and chancel repair searches can take between 1 and 10 days.

Our research shows that Plymouth City Council takes the longest to complete a Local Land Search, taking 36 days on average, while it only takes 21 days for Tewkesbury Borough Council to return searches.

It’s important to note that the turnaround for conveyancing search results can range from a few days to several weeks depending on how fast the relevant authority acts and how many they carry out per month.

How Much Do They Cost?

Conveyancers will usually offer a search package with the three main searches. The price can range from £250 to £450 and will vary by location, solicitor's fees and the number of searches you need. It's important you factor this into your conveyancing fees as you will have to pay these upfront.

We've included a few of the individual costs for the many types of conveyancing searches available.

Conveyancing SearchCost of Conveyancing Search

Local Authority Search

£50 - £250

Environmental Search

£50

Drainage and Water Search

£50 - £100

Flood Search

£20 - £50

Chancel Repair Search

£20 - £100

Mining Search

£25 - £120


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What Can Delay Searches?

You might have a delay in receiving the results from the searches if your local authority is yet to use an electronic system. This will slow down the process by a few weeks. However, most local authorities have or are in the process of using an online system with the rise of online conveyancing.

If your searches reveal anything worrying, your conveyancer might have to order further searches which will delay the process. They sometimes might recommend taking out indemnity insurance for peace of mind in certain situations.

How Long Does it Take to Exchange After Searches?

It takes anywhere from 1-3 weeks to exchange after conveyancing searches. Your conveyancing searches should be returned and approved prior to exchanging contracts so you have time to raise queries.

Learn More

Still curious? Click here to learn about the exchanging of contracts

Need More Information?

This article is part of our what is conveyancing guide. Next, we take a look at conveyancing disbursements. To learn more read: What are Conveyancing Disbursements?

Martha Lott

Written by Martha Lott

Having written for Huffington Post and Film Criticism Journal, Martha now regularly researches and writes advice articles for everything moving house related.

Gareth Brooks

Reviewed by Gareth Brooks

Solicitor and Partner, RMNJ Solicitors

With 19 years of experience in the residential conveyancing industry, Gareth Brooks is a partner and head of management for the conveyancing department at RMNJ Solicitors.

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