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What is a Local Authority Search?

Adele MacGregor

Written by Reviewed by Graham Norwood

29th Nov 2019 (Last updated on 12th Apr 2024) 5 minute read

A Local Authority Search is a query into the local area and land where the property you are hoping to buy resides. This is a vital part of the conveyancing process and will be required by your lender if you are buying a house with a mortgage.

The information provided by these searches is invaluable to the buyer and could even influence the sale. There are two types of local authority searches - official and personal. With an "official" search, forms are sent directly to the local authority and council staff conduct the search from the Local Land Charges Register.

A personal local authority search is conducted by an external agency, not affiliated with the local council. Which search you have done can depend on what your mortgage lender will accept.

  1. Why Do I Need a Local Authority Search?
  2. What is Included?
  3. What Isn't Included?
  4. Search Costs
  5. How Long Do Local Authority Searches Take?
  6. Do Cash Buyers Need a Local Authority Search?
  7. What is Local Authority Search Indemnity Insurance?

Why Do I Need a Local Authority Search?

If you are buying a property with a mortgage, you will need a Local Authority Search to reassure your lender that the property won’t lose its value. Normally this is requested by a conveyancer or solicitor after your offer has been accepted.

The search is carried out through the local authority, or sometimes centrally through HM Land Registry, and will reveal various matters in relation to the property including footpaths, highways, planning and building regulations.

Even if you are not using a mortgage to buy a house, proceeding without a Local Authority Search is not advised. The information provided by the search can be used to either renegotiate your original house price offer or even cause you to pull out of the purchase completely.

What is Included?

A local authority search comes in two parts, referred to as a LLC1 and a CON29. These searches make sure you know as much as possible about the property you are buying prior to exchange of contracts.

The Local Land Charges Register Search (LLC1)

  • Any planning agreements or conditional planning permissions.
  • Whether the property is situated in a tree preservation order area.
  • If the property has a listed building status.
  • If financial charges are registered against the property.
  • Any required improvement or renovation grant.
  • Whether the property is located in a conservation area.
  • If the property is located in a smoke control zone.

The Enquiries of the Local Authority (CON29)

  • Proposals for new roads, traffic and rail schemes within the vicinity of the property.
  • Planning decisions that could affect the property and the surrounding area in the future.
  • Environmental factors such as whether the property is on contaminated land.
  • Levels of Radon Gas
  • The report will also flag any potential concerns such as the risk of subsidence and energy and infrastructure.

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What Isn't Included?

There are a number of searches which are deemed essential by certain lenders that are not covered by the Local Authority Search. These will incur additional fees but can be included as part of a search packet.

These include:

  • A CON290, which is different to a CON29. A CON290 may be required to obtain additional information about any changes planned for the future that may affect your property.
  • An Environmental Search which determines the risk of flooding and the proximity to any waste sites or potentially contaminated areas.
  • Drainage and Water Search which involvces a search of the water authority’s records to check whether the property is connected to mains water supply and drainage.

Following the initial conveyancing searches and exchange of contracts, the buyer's solicitor will also need to carry out pre-completion searches. These check that the buyer can still afford the property.

Search Costs

Costs associated with local authority searches can vary based on a number of factors. As councils set their own fees for both the LLC1 and the CON29 the searches could cost anywhere between £50 to £250, depending on the local authority.

Any additional searches that may be required will come at an extra cost and it is worth noting that the costs will be at the higher end of the spectrum in certain areas of London.

The price of the searches will usually be included in the overall breakdown of conveyancing costs. Conveyancers and solicitors will usually offer a “search package” which includes all required searches, with prices ranging from £250 to £450 and can vary from location to location and the number of searches required.

How Long Do Local Authority Searches Take?

Local Authority Search takes between two and six weeks on average. This makes it the most time-consuming search. The total time this search takes is dependent on how quickly the local authority is able to work. In some cases, if a local authority is suffering staff shortages, it can take six to eight weeks or more.

The best way to stay in the loop with your searches is to keep in regular contact with your solicitor or conveyancer. You should also query anything you are unsure about. Your conveyancer or solicitor may want to make further enquiries based on the results of the searches. This can add to the amount of time the process takes.

Read more on How Long Do Conveyancing Searches Take?

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Do Cash Buyers Need a Local Authority Search?

If you are a cash buyer - and therefore not taking out a mortgage - it is not mandatory for you to arrange a Local Authority Search. This is because it is your own money that is at risk, rather than a lenders'. That said, it is highly recommended that you do undertake a search for peace of mind before committing to buying the property.

What is Local Authority Search Indemnity Insurance?

Indemnity insurance is a protective insurance policy taken out during property transactions. If there is a delay with your searches, this insurance covers you in the event that an order is served, causing you to sell your property under the price you paid for the home.

This means you can proceed with the property purchase without the information provided by the Local Authority Searches and be protected if there is a detail about the home and surrounding area that you were unaware of.

Local Authority Indemnity Insurance will be subject to your mortgage lender's approval and it is recommended that you discuss the pros and cons of getting the insurance with your conveyancer or solicitor prior to taking out a policy.

Adele MacGregor

Having worked at Compare My Move for over five years, Adele specialises in covering a range of surveying topics.

Graham Norwood

Reviewed by Graham Norwood

Editor, Letting Agent Today and Landlord Today

With over 20 years of experience in residential property journalism, Graham is currently the editor for both Letting Agent Today and Landlord Today.

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