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POSTED 26 November 2018 General

What is a Local Authority Search?

A local authority search is a key part of a home purchase that can return important information about a property. It may lead you to renegotiate a bid or even pull out of a deal.

In this post we take a look at exactly what a local authority search entails, including how long it takes to complete and how much it costs to carry out.

What purpose does a local authority search serve?

The idea of a local authority search is to uncover any hidden issues with a property to protect a buyer from any unforeseen problems in the future. A search will provide details on the property and the immediate area around it, including:

  • If roads and footpaths are publically maintained
  • If the council has any road schemes affecting the property
  • Any planning permission affecting the property
  • Any building developments in the area
  • If a property is in a conservation area
  • If there is contaminated land in or around a property

Do I have to get a search?

A local authority search is not required by law; however, if you’re using a mortgage to buy your property then your lender will almost certainly obligate you to have a search carried out.

On the other hand, if you’re a cash buyer, you don’t necessarily need a search but it is generally advisable. If you choose not to have a search, you can take out no search indemnity insurance.

What to be aware of?

A local authority search is normally carried out on your behalf by a solicitor or licensed conveyancer – so if there is something specific you want to know about the property you will need to ask them to make specific enquiries.

You should also enquire as to the area covered by the search and establish how wide this is. Sometimes a search incorporates an entire neighbourhood but other times it may just be the adjoining house.

How much does a search cost?

Each local authority has a different charge so search prices can vary quite widely depending on the part of the county a property is. However, in general, you will be looking at paying anywhere from £75 to £120 and possibly even a little more in certain areas of the UK.

To cut costs, you can conduct a personal search yourself. This wouldn’t cost you any money, but it’s not generally advisable unless you have the specialist knowledge required to carry out the search properly.

How long does a search take?

Just like the costs, the length of a search can vary quite significantly. Waits of six weeks are not unheard of while three weeks is fairly common too. That said, you’re unlikely to have to wait much more a couple of weeks and it may even be a little quicker.

If you’re in a rush to buy for whatever reason, you can pay extra for a personal search, this is a fast track service and normally takes just two or three days to complete.