Pre-Purchase Residential Surveys

Which residential searches should I carry out when purchasing a property and what will they tell me?

When purchasing a property, we always recommend that a full “due diligence” is carried out to ensure the property has a good and marketable title. The searches that we would recommend you carry out are as follows:

Local Land Charges and Local Authority Search

A search of the local land charges register shows matters such as compulsory purchase orders, tree preservation orders, planning enforcement notices, building regulations certificates and financial charges registered against a property. You should note that the search result provides a snapshot of the register at the date of the search. Local land charges registered after the date of the search will still bind a property. A local authority search reveals important information about a property, such as planning permissions and building regulation consents, proposals for road schemes and environmental and pollution notices and the location of any public paths and/or byways crossing the land. A local authority search only reveals matters that affect the property being searched against. It will not disclose matters that affect neighbouring properties or nearby land.

Environmental Search

An environmental search can be used to establish the risk of land being contaminated, by collating information from regulatory bodies, floodplain data and a review of current and historic land uses. This type of search is also known as a “desktop search”. An environmental data search does not include a site visit or testing of soil or groundwater samples. It does, however, give information as to the likelihood of land contamination, flooding, ground instability, radon and any other environmental factors.

Drainage and Water Search

The replies to drainage and water enquiries show whether a property is connected to the mains water supply and mains drainage. The replies may also show the location of public sewers within the boundary of a property and other such matters that may restrict development. In addition, the search results provide information as to the water and drainage providers and the location of any water meter.

Chancel Repair Liability Search / Indemnity Insurance

A chancel repair search shows whether the owner of a property may be liable to contribute towards the cost of repairs to the chancel of a parish church. We would advise you not to contact any parish churches directly in relation to chancel repair liability, as this may limit the availability of an indemnity insurance which would protect you against any enforcement action. The basic search results will tell you whether there is any liability, but do not make clear the extent of that liability. Often, it is advisable to take out an indemnity insurance as a precaution.

Written by Sadie Webb from Whitehead Monckton