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Conveyancing Searches Explained

Martha Lott

Written by Reviewed by Gareth Brooks

8th Nov 2018 (Last updated on 7th Oct 2021) 7 minute read

Conveyancing searches are enquiries made to a variety of different authorities which will provide you with information about the property you’re hoping to buy. These searches are a vital stage of the conveyancing process.

After your offer has been accepted, your conveyancer will organise three main searches: local authority search, environmental search and drainage search.

If you’re buying a house with a mortgage, then conveyancing searches are required to satisfy your mortgage lender's requirements. These searches will give you vital information about the property itself. They can be a decisive factor in whether you should go ahead with the purchase.

A licensed conveyancer or a conveyancing solicitor will enquire with the necessary authorities on which searches should be obtained. Compare My Move share everything you need to know about conveyancing searches.

This article will cover the following:
  1. What Are Conveyancing Searches?
  2. What Are Local Authority Searches?
  3. What Is An Environmental Search?
  4. What Is A Drainage and Water Search?
  5. What Are Title Searches?
  6. Less Common Conveyancing Searches
  7. How Long Do Conveyancing Searches Take?
  8. How Much Do Conveyancing Searches Cost?
  9. Do I Need Conveyancing Searches?
  10. Learn More About Conveyancing

What Are Conveyancing Searches?

Conveyancing searches are a standard set of questions submitted to the relevant authority by your conveyancer or solicitor to find out important information about the property. Property searches are made up of a local authority search, environmental search and drainage search. They will need to be budgeted into the total cost of buying a house.

These will then highlight any issues to do with the area and local authority that could cause disruption or damage to the property. The council might have planning permission to carry out building work or major schemes that could affect the property you’re interested in. This is the time that your conveyancer will let you know if you need to take out indemnity insurance for peace of mind.

Conveyancing searches will be carried out at the beginning of the conveyancing process for buyers, before exchanging contracts. These searches will provide you with vital information that could affect your decision to continue with the transaction.

Rest assured, at Compare My Move we only match you with the best conveyancing solicitors that are regulated by the SRA, CLC, LSS, LSNI or CILEx.

What Are Local Authority Searches?

Local authority searches are an essential part of the conveyancing process for buying a house. If you need a mortgage, then it will be a requirement of your lender that a Local Authority Search be obtained.

The Search is vital in finding key pieces of information that could be the deciding factor on whether you buy the property. The Search .is specific to the property you are buying.

The Local Authority Searches your Conveyancer will obtain are made up of two parts:

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.

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.

What Is An Environmental Search?

An Environmental Search will provide an assessment on whether the property has been built on potentially contaminated land and will highlight if there is a flood risk.

These searches are recommended when buying a house as you’re made aware of any potential problems before you are legally bound to buy it.

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.

What Is A 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.

The Drainage and Water Search 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.

What Are Title Searches?

Title searches will be an essential conveyancing search for the buyer of a property. 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.

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.

1. Flood Search

A flood search will inform you if the property and area is at risk of flooding. It goes without saying that this search is vital if the property is near water.

2. 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.

3. 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.

How Long Do Conveyancing Searches Take?

The turnaround for conveyancing search results can range from a few days to several weeks depending on how fast the relevant authority acts. The time that conveyancing searches take will vary depending on a number of factors.

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.

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.

How Much Do Conveyancing Searches Cost?

Conveyancers will usually offer a search package made up of the Local Authority, Environmental and Drainage and Water searches. The price can range from £250 to £450 and will vary by location, conveyancer costs and the amount of searches you need.

However, below, we've included a few of the individual costs for the many types of conveyancing searches available. The Advisory share their research on the cost of conveyancing searches.

Cost of conveyancing searches:

  • Local Authority Search = £60 - £230
  • Environmental Search = £25 - £60
  • Drainage and Water Search = £50 - £100
  • Flood Search = £20 - £50
  • Chancel Repair Search = £20 - £90
  • Mining Search = £25 - £120

Do I Need Conveyancing Searches?

Conveyancing searches are a necessary requirement for those buying a property with a mortgage. 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.

You will need to cover the cost of the searches. If you are buying a property without the need of a mortgage (known as a ‘cash purchase’) you can opt not to apply for searches, but it’s still recommended as the searches will potentially contain vital information about the property.

Buying a House with a Mortgage

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.

Buying a House with Cash

If you’re purchasing the property with cash, then you can decide how many or how little conveyancing searches you have. However, 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.

Learn More About Conveyancing

This has been part of our conveyancing guide. In our next article, we take a look at local authority search during the conveyancing process. To learn more read what is a local authority search?

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 at RMNJ Solicitors, 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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