How Much Are Conveyancing Searches in Watford?
The conveyancing process is a vital step when buying or selling property. That’s why it’s so important to find a verified and experienced conveyancer to help you with the legal aspects of the transaction. As part of the process, your conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor will conduct the necessary searches, including a Local Authority Search and an Environmental Search.
The Local Authority Search will be one of the main conveyancing searches your solicitor organises. In February 2020, Watford Borough Council joined forces with HM Land Registry to help make the process of obtaining these searches easier for potential buyers. As a result, your solicitor will be required to get the results from HM Land Registry rather than directly from the council. The pricing list has been split between both the Watford Borough Council’s website and the HM Land Registry site.
To help you start your research, our dedicated team created a useful table containing some of the more important enquiries and their current costs. For an official search of the register, you will have to apply using either the HM Land Registry portal, Business Gateway or gov.uk. Depending on what you require, this will likely cost £15. For a full residential search which includes the CON29R form, your solicitor will have to contact Watford Borough Council and pay a fee of around £67.
There are other optional questions that you can search for, such as questions 4-22 from CON29. However, these are all optional and will mean an added fee depending on which section you require. The cost of these are all on the Watford Borough Council’s website, but we’ve included a few examples below.
CON29 optional questions (numbers 4 to 21)
£9 inc VAT
These are optional questions that you will have to request and pay for individually. These will likely contain information concerning road proposals, noise abatement, gas pipelines and more.
An official search of the register under section 9(1) of the Local Land Charges Act 1975
£15 inc VAT
For this search, you will have to apply using either the HM Land Registry portal or Business Gateway or gov.uk. Each search result will provide details of entries on the Local Land Charges Register relating to the land or property concerned.
CON29 optional question number 22
£19.91 inc VAT
This is another question that will have to be requested and paid for as a separate enquiry.
Full local search residential (CON29R)
£67 inc VAT
This includes approximately 60 enquiries. It provides vital information such as planning permissions, planning notices, building control applications, road proposals, environmental health and community infrastructure levy.
What Are the Flood Risks in Watford?
As part of the conveyancing process, your conveyancer will arrange an Environmental Search on the property which will highlight whether it’s located in a high flood risk area. As you can see on the UK Flood Risk Map, properties within Watford have a low to medium risk of flooding due to the rivers that flow through the town.
The map indicates that properties situated close to the River Gade and River Colne have a 1-3.3% chance of flooding each year. Properties further from these rivers, however, have a less than 1% chance of flooding. Streets such as Radlett Road and Rickmansworth Road are examples of these medium risk areas as they are often subject to flood alerts from time to time.
Whilst the rivers and reservoirs in Watford are often the main cause of flooding, it’s also important to assess possible flood risks from surface water. This often occurs due to faulty drainage systems and other issues, so it’s vital you research the property’s history. For homes located close to the rivers in Watford, the risk of surface water increases the flood risk level from medium to high - this means that the chances of experiencing flood issues rise to over 3.3%.
If you’re worried about the property’s condition due to past flooding or are concerned it may be in a flood risk area, it’s vital you discuss the Environmental Search results with your solicitor.
Are There Ground Stability Concerns in Watford?
To conclude the Environmental Search, your conveyancer will also complete a ground stability search to highlight unstable ground on or surrounding the land that the property is situated on. This type of conveyancing search will uncover any risk of subsidence, landslides or other ground-related issues that may cause the land to become unstable.
Whilst Watford is located somewhat close to London, the UK Subsidence Map shows that the town has a low risk of subsidence. Subsidence often occurs in densely-populated areas such as London as the added pressure of multiple buildings weakens the ground below. As Watford is a town and so less populated compared to nearby cities, the risk of subsidence is decreased.
According to the England and Wales Clay Hazards Map, Watford also borders an area of the UK that is marked as a Hazard Level D and Hazard Level E for clay soil. This means that the clay soil throughout the town is highly likely to shrink and swell when there’s added pressure or that temperature changes rapidly. This increases the risk of subsidence and ground instability.
If you encounter a risk of current or future ground instability, it could affect your property value when it comes to selling it further down the line. Your conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor should be able to highlight any threat or issues of any unstable ground once the searches have been completed.
- Reveals instability issues from natural or man-made hazards.
- Highlights historic and current landfill sites.
- Identifies natural ground subsidence.
- Recognises historic tin, coal, clay and any other mining activity.
What Are the Radon Gas Levels in Watford?
As part of the Local Authority Search, your conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor should uncover whether the area your property is located in has a high level of radon gas. This enquiry will usually be answered in the Con29 form and will help you discover if the location is directly in a high-risk area, or within a specific distance of a radon affected area.
Odourless and colourless, radon gas is emitted from the natural uranium in rocks and soil. Every building throughout the UK will contain some level of radon as it’s a natural gas, but the average level is typically low. High level areas can come with health warnings as it is radioactive and can increase the risk of lung cancer.
As you can see on the UK Radon Map, Watford does not contain high levels of radon gas, making it a low risk area. The chance of experiencing high levels in Watford is currently less than 1 in 100 homes. There have been higher levels of radon gas documented in areas surrounding the town but even these are incredibly low risk.
If you’re still concerned about the level of radon gas in the area, you should discuss the results of the Local Authority Search with your conveyancer before finalising the transaction.
Is Contaminated Land an Issue in Watford?
Another issue that may be highlighted during the conveyancing searches, is whether the property resides on or near contaminated land. Contaminated land usually contains a substance or type of pollution that is hazardous to your health or to the environment. Examples of this include landfill sites and areas used by factories.
Whilst there are currently around 250 sites that have been identified and prioritised for further investigation by Watford Borough Council, none have been officially declared as ‘contaminated’. However, previous survey reports conducted in Mead Way have highlighted the importance of obtaining an Enviro All-in-One Report as it may affect the value of the property in question. This may be something to discuss with your conveyancer.
For added peace of mind, know that Watford Borough Council do have their Contaminated Land Strategy available on their website, should you want to understand what steps would be taken to remedy any contamination.