What does a Local Search reveal?

It is common for transactions to take a longer time than expected. One of the main reasons for this is receiving searches may take longer than expected. Here at Bond Adams, we appreciate the importance of these searches and would like to share some insight on what they reveal. This article focuses on the local authority search.

What is a local search?

A local authority search reveals important information about a property, such as planning permissions and building regulation consents, proposals for road schemes, environmental and pollution notices, and whether any part of the property is registered as common land or as a town or village green. A local authority search only reveals matters that affect the property being searched against. It will not disclose matters that affect neighbouring properties.

The search can reveal things, such as if the nearby roads are highway maintainable at public expense. This means that the road is subject to an adoption agreement where the local council maintains the road. On the other hand, if the roads are not highway maintainable at public expense, then the owners of property near those roads may have to possibly maintain the roads themselves.

In relation to Local Land Charges, if the local authority enters an enforcement notice, this could potentially be a red flag for a buyer. An enforcement notice is put in place when a property is going against the councils wishes and regulations in relation to a property. A good example is where homeowners who mostly have planning permission, may exceed their rights under the terms of that permission. An enforcement notice could include the removal of the extension and ask the owners to follow the guideline or fine the owner. This is important for those individuals buying a property as on inspection they would consider whether the seller has resolved the issues in relation to the enforcement notice. Another example is if the property is in a tree conservation area. In such circumstances cutting down trees near the property may lead to an enforcement notice by the local council. Ultimately, a buyer is usually not willing to handle the burden of an enforcement notice as it can be costly.

The search can reveal whether the property is subject to a Community Infrastructure Levy. The Community Infrastructure Levy (the ‘levy’) is a charge which can be levied by local authorities on new development in their area. It is an important tool for local authorities to use to help them deliver the infrastructure needed to support development in their area.

The levy only applies in areas where a local authority has consulted on, and approved, a charging schedule which sets out its levy rates and has published the schedule on its website. Most new development which creates net additional floor space of 100 square metres or more, or creates a new dwelling, is potentially liable for the levy. This information allows for a buyer to understand commitments that would need to be made when purchasing a property.

Lastly, the local authority search can also reveal if there are any future plans for railway and road schemes. This can be important for a buyer as they would need to consider whether such plans affect their property or are expected to affect them wanting to buy the property. A railway may be planned to be close to the property which could make noise in the area or there may be roads with restrictions on parking which may affect a buyer looking to buy a property without a driveway.

If you require further information on a local search or any property law queries, please do not hesitate to contact our experienced property law team at Bond Adams LLP Solicitors. You can contact us on 0116 285 8080 or email us at lawyers@bondadams.com.