Residential property specialist, Victoria Cranwell, considers whether it’s possible to fast track local authority searches.
Victoria is available on 01225 462871. Alternatively, you can contact her by email, or by completing the Contact Form at the foot of this page. Conveyancing quotes are also available online.
Conveyancing searches are enquiries made by your conveyancing solicitor to various bodies to discover more about the property you are purchasing.
Find out more about the types of and need for conveyancing searches in our earlier article: What are conveyancing searches?
What do local authority searches show?
One of the most crucial searches carried out is a local authority search. A standard local authority search comprises a Form LLC1 (a request to search the Local Land Charges Register) plus a CON29 questionnaire.
If relevant to the property, the LLC1 reveals:
- Financial charges registered against the property
- Tree preservation orders
- Listed buildings status
- Smoke control areas
- Conditional planning permissions
- Conservation areas since 1974
- Community Infrastructure Levy charges
- Planning Enforcement Notices
- Article 4 Directions
The CON29 questionnaire includes:
- Planning history
- Building control regulations
- Proposed tree preservation orders
- Highway information
- Community Infrastructure Levy
- Public footpaths shown on definitive maps
- Proposed planning enforcement or breach of condition notices
- Assets of community value
- Rail schemes and proposals
Optional enquiries may be submitted on Form CON290, for:
- Common land enquiries
- Information on gas pipelines
- Flood defences and land drainage consents
If you buy without a mortgage, you can proceed ‘blind’ without undertaking any searches. However, you are strongly advised not to do so!
How long do local authority searches take?
However, searches take time, and local authority searches typically take the longest. Local authority search time depends on the authority’s current volume of work. Exceptionally, searches come back within 2 to 3 weeks, but 4 to 6 weeks is more usual. At times, however, it can take up to 10 weeks. For example, at the time of writing, reports are circulating that local authority searches in Newcastle upon Tyne are taking three months! Of course, that holds up the entire conveyancing chain.
Fast track local authority searches
Occasionally, it’s possible to expedite a local authority search. A few local authorities offer this as an option in return for an additional fee. With others, a fast track local authority search is purely discretionary and depends on current work volumes.