Local Authority Search

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A Local Authority Search (also known as local land charges search or local search) refers to the provision of specific information about a particular property and the surrounding area for buyers and sellers. This is undertaken as part of the conveyancing process by a solicitor or a licensed conveyancer, and is normally a requirement for transactions of commercial properties.[1]

The solicitor or licensed conveyancer acts on behalf of the property buyer or the tenant, and liaises with the local authority who are responsible for carrying out the local authority Search. Once the local authority gets involved in the search, it takes an average of two to three weeks to complete the process. The timescale depends on which local authority carries out the search. However, the process can be made quicker by carrying out a 'personal search'. This means paying extra additional cost for a faster service, usually completed within two or three days. [2] There are many personal search companies carrying out these searches at competitive fees, often cheaper than a Local Authority. Choose a company who offer regulated searches, being either a member of IPSA or CoPSO as both bodies require compliance with the "Search Code". Local Authorities are not regulated by a code but offer individual assurances or insurance for the searches they provide commercially. Search google for "Personal Search Company"

A Local Authority Search Purposes[edit]

The main purpose of a local search is to protect property buyers from any unpleasant eventualities that could affect their use and enjoyment of the property or which may have an effect upon its value (for purchaser and potential lender) and therefore, is a key element in the conveyancing process. The local search will provide information that is designed to reveal any potential problems or issues with the property and the surrounding area, which enables the buyer to make an informed decision on the current state of the property. The local search is essentially designed to provide important information that would potentially influence the use, the renting out or future reselling of the property.[3]

Local Authority Search Inclusions[edit]

A local authority search comprises two separate parts consisting of two different documents:

LLC 1 (the Official Certificate of Search Form)[edit]

The LLC1 form is obtained from HMSO (Her Majesty's Stationery Office) and is in general submitted by the solicitor or licensed conveyancer of the property buyer. The following information could be obtained from LLC 1, a search of the local land charges register:[4]

  • Listed buildings
  • Conservation areas
  • Tree protection orders
  • Improvement or Renovation grants
  • Smoke control zones
  • Future developments

CON 29 (Enquiries of the Local Authority Form)[edit]

The Law Society of England and Wales is currently (2013-2014) carrying out a consultation (available via the Law Society website) on revisions to both CON29 forms, but at the date of writing the format remains as below:

The CON 29 document consists of two separate parts; CON 29(R) and CON 29(O). (R stands for "Required" meaning that these questions apply in all transactions and O stands for "Optional" which mean that it is open to a conveyancer to make these enquiries if appropriate to the transaction and property) Examples of the environmental information that are provided by CON 29(R) include the following:

  • Building control history
  • Nearby road schemes and motorways
  • Contaminated land
  • Radon gas

The CON 29(O) form deals with a number of extra enquiries, which are optional depending on the property circumstances. Examples of the enquiries dealt with by the CON 29(O) include the following:[5]

  • Road proposals by private bodies
  • Public paths or byways
  • Advertisements
  • Completion notices
  • Parks and countryside
  • Pipelines
  • Houses in multiple occupation
  • Noise abatement
  • Urban development areas
  • Enterprise zones
  • Inner urban improvement areas
  • Simplified planning zones
  • Land maintenance notices
  • Mineral consultation areas
  • Hazardous substance consents
  • Environmental and pollution notices
  • Food safety notices
  • Hedgerow notices
  • Common land, Town & village Greens

Local Authority Search Affected Areas[edit]

A Local Authority Search will affect all residential and commercial properties in England and Wales. The information required from the search is maintained by every local authority in England and Wales. In Scotland and Ireland, there are still a number of searches required to be carried out in the process, not specifically called a Local Authority Search.

What is a Local Authority[edit]

A Local Authority is a government subdivision of England and Wales, and is responsible for many services in the area it covers. Each area of England and Wales is covered by a local Council or Authority, which are responsible for maintaining various services in the area. In many cases, a local council is the lower tier authority in an area. For example, Cheshire in England, which is a non-Metropolitan and Ceremonial county, manages services such as the police, library, education, transport and fire services. Cheshire is actually split into two smaller council areas for the purpose of Local Authority Searches, Cheshire-East and Cheshire-West. In addition, your area may be governed by a Unitary Authority, which would provide all the services that Cheshire does but is not subdivided any further, meaning a Unitary Authority would also be responsible for the Local Authority Search.

The only exception to the rule is Greater London, which is a top level Administration division of England, and each of the 32 boroughs included is the responsible for the Local Authority Search.

HM Land Registry's proposals for the future of Local Land Charges[edit]

On 16th January 2014 HM Land Registry (which is presently responsible for the collation and maintenance of records of ownership and charges(mortgages)relatingto land/property) has issued a press release informing of a project that it has undertaken for the past two years with a view to the taking over of the Local Land Charges function from local authorities. HMLR PRESS RELEASE The intention is to centralise the records in a digital and uniform format (which contrasts with the diverse formats presently untilised by the 348 local authorities in Engalnd and Wales) and to provide as single point of reference to fulfil the same function as the above mentioned search reports. The press release coincides with a consultation exercise which is accessible from the press release link above.

Getting in Touch with the Local Authority[edit]

When purchasing a residential or commercial property in England or Wales, then it is a requirement for the property buyer to get in touch with the Local Authority in the area. This can be done directly (usually by the conveyancer) or through the services of a specialist search company which may be able to provide other relevant services such as Environmental or Flood Searches which a local authority cannot provide. Depending on how the geographical location is divided council wise, it may be necessary to carry out a research to find out which local council exactly is responsible for dealing with the Local Authority Search in the area. Sometimes some of the information for the CON29R and CON29O is held by a County Council covering several District Council Areas, which means that the District Council itself would have to obtain the answers to the CON29 questions from the County Council. Alternatively search google for a "personal search company" who will cover the area or contact IPSA or CoPSO for their nearest member IPSACoPSO

A list of Local Authorities can be found via the Direct Government UK website, which also allows the users to filter search by postcode or area.

See also[edit]