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Conveyancing House searches in The UK

Conveyancing includes legal and associated legal fees, amongst which all the necessary house searches should be covered. Why is it important to carry these house searches and what information can they provide about the property you are planning on buying?

Local authority search

You (if you are doing your own conveyancing) or your solicitor, the Local Authority responsible for the property you are buying will carry a search that will highlight all the issues/details regarding:

  • Any road proposals (any local plans of building a new road, that might affect your property or life quality), planning permissions (what permits do you need if you decide to remodel any part of the house or add a new kitchen)
  • Environmental health matters (public health, animal welfare, pollution control, private rented housing standards or private water supplies)
  • Tree preservation order (you might have a protected species of tree in the backyard, which you cannot cut, top or wilful damage without the local planning authority's written consent),
  • Enforcement notices (is there any enforcement notices on the property you are planning to buy, which means the previous owner breached the local authority planning perspective)
  • Compulsory purchase orders (CPOs can be issued by local authorities and force you to sell the house if, at any point, it's considered that your property obstructs a regeneration project or a “greater public good)

Drainage search

Contact the water company and find out if the maintenance of the pipes and sewers is the local water company responsibility or yours, as an owner; the search also includes details on the position of the pipes and sewers and the impact any alterations or extensions to the property might have on them

Environmental search

You must be warned by the local authority or your solicitor about any dangers regarding a waste site on or near your property; if the person responsible for the contamination cannot be found, the liability falls on the owner, so you might have to cover expenses you did not even know existed. A prior environmental search can save you money and time.

Chancel search

If the property you are buying is under the Parochial Church Council as part of a parish (even if not located in the immediate proximity of a medieval church), you might have to contribute towards church repairs, which sometimes can mean extra thousands of pounds out of your budget

Telecommunication, Electricity and Railway searches

Any details regarding a communication tower, electricity work or planned railway works must be mentioned before you buy a property because it might affect any plans of building, property structure or rights as the owner.

Coal mining report

This search is required only when the property is near a mine or a known old mining area.

Disadvantage area relief

If the property you are planning to buy is in a designated disadvantaged area, you might be exempted from paying the Stamp duty tax if the purchase is over £125,000 and not over £150,000.

Other searches include plan search, if a historical area or a Land Registry search, when you want to be sure that the owner has the right to sell and the land is registered.

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