What is a Local Authority Search?
It’s a search done by your conveyancing solicitor on your behalf. It’s a list of questions about the house you’re buying which is sent to the local authority. It asks questions about any possible planning applications for that property only, any local road or traffic schemes that might affect the property.
It does not cover any neighbouring property.
It looks at planning and building regulations. Whether it’s a listed building, whether it’s in a conservation area, what building regs approval it might have, whether there’s building regulation completion certificates etc.
Whether roads, footways and footpaths are maintained at public expenses (ie: are highways that are adopted as publicly maintained.)
Whether the property is included in land required for public access.
Whether it is land aquired for road works.
What drainage agreements and consents are applicable. Important as if you have a public sewer in your garden you will not be able to build over it or within so many meters of it.
What nearby road schemes are planned or any changes. Whether it’s near any rail scheme. What traffic schemes are in order near the property. (ie: one way, no parking, road humps, residents parking schemes, etc)
It may also cover any outstanding notices not already covered in terms of environment, health and safety, highways or public health.
It may also list if the property is in contravention of building regulations.
All these things are important to know.
What a local authority search doesn’t cover – it doesn’t cover the neighbours property even if they’re secretly planning a massive extension you don’t get told about it unless you do the research yourself.
It is possible with many local authorities to do a planning or building control search on their website. This allows you to check out planning permissions coming up on your street. It also pays to check this regularly. You can ask the property owner if they know of any – if you do this through your solicitor in writing then this is the best way.