What is a Local Authority Search?
If you are buying a property, a local authority search is carried out during the conveyancing process and for prospective buyers it will be known as a search within the ‘search pack’. The local authority search provides additional protection to the buyer of the property to ensure there are no unexpected surprises, in terms of restrictions or factors affecting the property or land it resides on when you move in, as well as potential factors which could impact your property in the future.
The local authority search is split into two parts; LLC1 and CON29 (and optional Con290 Enquiries) which are explained below:
Local Land Charge Register Search (LLC1)
The Local Land Charges Register is maintained by every Local Authority in England and Wales (Excluding some County Councils).
This first part of the Local Authority Search reveals information on your property and consists of 12 categories, some which are associated with specific legislation, regarding enforceable duties or charges against the property. The LLC1 can reveal information on the following (this is not categorised into the 12 parts):
- financial obligations,
- enforcement orders,
- conservation areas,
- if there are any preservation restrictions on your trees,
- if your property is a listed building,
- if land was acquired under any compulsory purchase,
- grants for improvement,
- if your property is in a smoke control zone,
- land drainage,
- light obstruction,
- civil aviation charges as well as listing any planning applications.
Enquiries of the Local Authority (CON29)
The second part, is the standard CON29 search which focuses on planning and building including:
- any current or future building planning applications associated to the property,
- planning and public highways for the area including any planned infrastructure such as roads and rail,
- any environmental health issues (contaminated land, radon affected areas).
The CON29 will provide information on anything which could affect your property immediately at the time of the search, or is in the pipeline.
Optional Search of Enquiries Con290
In accordance with various Acts of Parliament and Regulations, there is also the CON290 form which is an optional search and delves into 22 additional enquiries covering themes around the following: (Please note this does not list the 22 enquiries)
- Private bodies constructing new roads or amending existing roads,
- Display of advertisements,
- Terminated planning permissions – completion notices,
- Information relating to parks and countryside i.e. is your property in a National Park?
- Gas pipelines,
- Any noise enforcements, pollution or environmental issues,
- Enforcements for food safety and hygiene,
- Concerns relating to key legislation about the hedgerows,
- Property registered to village, town or common land,
- Houses in multiple occupations.
- If your property is in a designated urban area, inner improvement area, enterprise zone, planning zone or could be an area assigned to any local development order or business improvement,
- Any notices for land maintenance,
- Concerns for mineral, safeguarding areas or hazardous substances,
- Flood defences and land drainage concerns,
- Common land enquiries and proposals for new road constructions or amendments to existing roads.
The Con290 and Con29 Enquiries Forms were updated in 2016 due to new issues arising within communities and the potential changes from the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013. Please bear in mind that this information is only up-to-date at the time of publication.
Why is local authority search important?
The outcome of the Local Authority Search may impact the price of the property so the buyer may consider re-negotiating the price of the property with the vendor, or even reconsider whether to go ahead with the purchase of the property.
Once you have moved into your property, you may be considering making improvements to extend your property or even cutting down your trees. This may not be possible if you have a preservation order on your tree or your property is in a conservation area. Your Local Authority Search will identify these considerations before purchasing your property so you are fully aware before you move in of any restrictions to your land or property.
In addition many mortgage providers will tend to request a local authority search as part of the mortgage application. The search for instance may reveal that your property is residing in a flood area and this could affect your ability to obtain contents and buildings insurance which is a key element of your mortgage application.
Factors to consider with your local authority search
- The Local Authority Search may only identify factors associated to your property and your street, and not always your neighbouring properties in terms of planning consents or applications. To obtain information about the wider neighbouring area, you can sometimes obtain this via your local council or you could ask for a ‘Plan Search’ or ‘Planning Search’ from your Solicitor or Conveyancer. This ‘Plan Search’ can provide information on commercial and residential properties within a 250 metre radius of your property as well as information on crime rates, local services and the Local Authority’s area planning policies.
- The Local Authority Searches only provides information on what is live at that time; so any new planning proposals may arise after your search has been undertaken.
- The Conveyancer or Solicitor may carry out either a ‘Personal Search’ or an ‘Official Search’. A ‘Personal Search’ is a search of the Local Land Charges Register only and is supplied by a personal search company (regulated by the Search Code – Quality Assurance code of practice) who obtain most of the data from public registers. An ‘Official Search’ is part of the Local Land Charges Act 1975, compiled by the Local authority/council and provides a full search (LLC1 and CON29 Enquiries).
- Depending on the Authority, the Local Authority Search can take between 2 days and up to 7 weeks, in the worse scenario.
- The costs can vary for these searches depending on your Local Authority, though sometimes rather than pay individually you can purchase these searches as part of your ‘search package’ via your Solicitor.