InsightsInsight - Property and Conveyancing - POSTED: January 24 2024
Pre-exchange conveyancing searches – What are they and why do you need them?
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You may have heard the term “caveat emptor” which means “buyer beware”. In the conveyancing process even though the seller must answer questions honestly and declare any important information about the property, it is up to the buyer to carry out all necessary surveys and investigations to make sure that the property they are purchasing is safe and fit for purpose. To help with this, your conveyancer will advise you that certain searches should be carried out on the property. In this article we will discuss the standard searches that your conveyancer will carry out and what results are shown in these searches.
The most common (and helpful) search is the Local Authority Search. This search investigates various things at, and in, the vicinity of the property such as:
- Access maintenance – does the Local Authority maintain the road your property abuts or is it a private road you may have to contribute towards?
- Planning applications – if there have been any extensions or alterations at the property this will show if the seller obtained the appropriate permissions and consents.
- Building regulations consents – again, if there has been work carried out to the property such as double glazing, electrical works, a new boiler etc. this will show if the appropriate certificates were obtained and the work was carried out by a competent person.
- Development plan – this could affect any work you may wish to carry out at the property.
- Improvement grants – are there any on the property? Will these need to be repaid? This is something that will need to be sorted before you take ownership of the property.
- Underground room regulations – does the property have a basement or are you planning to have a basement? This might be affected.
- Conservation area – if the property is a conservation area this will affect any planning applications made for work which could affect the character or appearance of the property.
- Listed buildings – if the property is a listed building, any unauthorised works, demolitions, alterations or extensions to the property in any manner which would affect its character, is an offence punishable by imprisonment or a fine. Special listed building consent must be obtained from the local planning authority before any works are carried out.
- Tree preservation orders – if one is revealed then any affected trees cannot be felled, topped, lopped or wilfully destroyed without the consent of the local planning authority, unless they are dead, dying or dangerous.
- Contaminated land – this will reveal if the land the property is built on was ever used for any uses which may have caused contamination.
- Radon Gas – if the property is in a radon affected area it will be revealed and the level of properties that are effected by the gas.
The other standard searches that your conveyancer may require to be carried out are:
- Homebuyers/environmental search. As the name suggests this search will reveal any environmental matters that may affected the property such as flooding, ground stability, energy and infrastructure etc. This search now also reveals the risks and effects that climate change may pose to the property in the medium and long term future.
- Planning report. This search will reveal if there are any planning applications for properties or land searched up to 750 metres from the property. This would be useful information if the neighbour is planning to build a large extension on the side of their house or that countryside view from the bedroom window has an application for a new estate to be built on.
- Water and drainage search. This search will reveal whether the drainage and water are connected to the mains or if the property is connected to a private supply. It will also confirm the classification of the water, if the property is served by a meter, the whereabouts of any pipes or drains serving or crossing the property as well as other information.
- Chancel check search. You may recall hearing about Chancel repair liability in the news a few years ago. The cost of repair of the Chancel of the Parish Church is generally met either by the church council or the representative body of the church or other ecclesiastical bodies or educational establishments. However in some instances, land owners are liable for the cost of such repair. This search will show whether the property is in a parish which has a potential repair liability.
As stated, these are the “standard” searches but there may be additional searches required depending on the location of the property and the results of these searches.
Your conveyancer will use the results of these searches to assist them in what enquiries they should raise with the seller’s solicitors. If you are having a mortgage, some of the results revealed may also need to be referred to your lender for their confirmation that they are happy and you can proceed. These searches are highly informative for both you and your conveyancer and helps you make sure that your investment is a secure one.
This content is correct at time of publication
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