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What Are Conveyancing Searches?


If you are going to buy a property, your conveyancing solicitor will carry out searches with the local authority and other parties on your behalf.

These searches are enquiries which uncover additional information about your desired property and typically include aspects such as the quality of the ground which the property is built on and the details of water supply and wastewater disposal facilities. The searches carried out by your conveyancing lawyer could potentially highlight planning or structural issues that could affect the property’s value or incur repair costs in future, so they need to be carried out before you exchange contracts with the home-seller and legally commit yourself to purchasing the property.


Local Authority Search

This search usually consists of two parts:

- Checking the local land charges register – This will inform you as to whether your desired property is a listed building, has tress with a preservation order, or is in a conservation area or a smoke control zone.

- Searching for cautionary elements about the property – Elements such as compulsory purchase orders, proposed tree preservation orders, plans to build a motorway near the property, or disputes over the land or boundaries.

Each Local Authority has a different set of fees, and Local Authority Search costs can be fixed or unfixed, so it is important that you check this in your conveyancing quotes.


Water, Drainage and Other Property Searches

These searches will provide details such as whether your desired house is connected to: a public or private water supply, private disposal facilities, a septic tank, or a public sewer. It will also outline how the property is billed for its water supply and wastewater disposal – either rateable value or water meter. If the property is near to or affected by water mains or public sewers, the report will also confirm this. It is highly recommended that you apply to the local water company responsible for your desired property and ask them for confirmation that they are responsible for maintaining the property’s drains, sewers and piping.


Environmental Search

This is carried out by a specialist company that will check whether the land is likely to be contaminated (as defined by the Environmental Protection Act 1990) and that there are no known environmental hazards to the property, e.g. flood risk and landslips.


Although the three searches listed above are those typically carried out, depending on the location of your desired property, your conveyancer could recommend that you carry out some of the following non-routine searches:

- Commons registration – This search should be carried out if you are buying agricultural land, property in a rural area, or property which borders with common land or a village green

- Mining search – This search is required if your desired property is situated in an area of previous or current mining history as this puts it at risk of being built on unstable ground

- Land charges – If you are dealing with unregistered land, this search should be carried out, detailing any bankruptcy proceedings attributed to the owner of the land. If there are any restrictions on the use of land, estate contracts and mortgages, this search will also highlight this.

- Chancel repair liability – If you buy and live in a property within the parish of a parochial church council, you may be liable to contribute towards the cost of repairs to the church. Since October 2013, all parochial church councils in England and Wales have identified and registered any land bound to chancel repair liability; this information is kept by the Land Registry and stored on the Title Register database.

- It’s quite probable that your conveyancing search will flag up things about your desired property that you had not previously considered, so it is very important that you discuss the results of the search with your conveyancing lawyer. It is also a good idea to seek the opinion of others who have knowledge of the buying process and the local area.


Buying a house is likely to be one of the biggest and most important financial transactions you will make in your life, so it is crucial that you hire an experienced and qualified property lawyer for your conveyancing. At movelawyer.co.uk, we only partner with property lawyers who have been regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) or the Council of Licensed Conveyancers. When you receive your quote from movelawyer.co.uk, you can rest assured that the conveyancers and conveyancing solicitors we recommend are professional and experienced.