When buying a property your conveyancer will carry out due diligence over the property. This will generally include instructing searches. The searches that are carried out will depend on various factors, such as the location of the property, but in almost all purchases the following standard searches will be required, particularly where you are obtaining a mortgage:
1. Local Authority search
This will reveal whether there are any entries on the Council’s records that would have an adverse effect upon the property or impose a financial liability on you. The search result will set out the planning and building regulation history of the property and whether any complaints for unauthorised alterations have been recorded by the Council. The search will also confirm if the road to which the property fronts is maintained by the council; whether any land is required for public purposes or roadworks; and any nearby road, railway or traffic schemes.
2. A drainage & water search
This will confirm whether the property is connected to mains water, foul drainage and surface water drainage. It will also confirm whether there is a public sewer or water main within the boundary of the property which is particularly relevant if the property has been extended or if you intend to extend the property (as a build-over agreement with the water/sewerage provider would be required). It also notes the proximity of any sewerage treatment plants.
3. Environmental search.
Land may become contaminated as a result of past or present industrial use such as leakages of liquids from storage tanks or waste and liquids being deposited deliberately or inadvertently on a site from a potentially contaminative industrial process or other historic land use. An offence is committed if those required to do so fail to remediate contamination when so instructed. If the original polluter cannot be found then the current owner or occupier can be required to clean up. As such, it is important to ascertain that the land is not considered to be affected by contamination. The search also considers issues such as flooding, mining and ground stability. In order to assess the risks involved it is prudent to arrange a Search which offers an initial risk assessment of information provided from various sources. It is not an inspection of the property but only an assessment from publicly sourced information.
4. Chancel search.
Chancel repair liability is a medieval anomaly where the Church was granted powers to charge those owning “rectoral land” within the historical parish boundary for the upkeep of the chancel of the parish church. The Chancel search identifies whether or not a property is located within the boundaries of an historical parish which has the right to charge for chancel repairs. The result will either confirm that there is a potential liability within the parish or a certificate confirming that there is no risk identified for the parish. If there is a potential liability, an indemnity insurance policy is usually obtainable at little expense.
Where additional searches are required due to the results of the above searches or the locality of the property we will discuss this with you and carry out the additional searches as necessary.
For further advice on this and other Residential Property issues contact our Residential Property department.