What is a local authority search?

  • 12th May 2022
  • 5 minute read
  • Written by Maisie Eames
What is a local authority search?

In this guide
What’s included in a local authority search?
Personal local authority search
Personal search vs Local authority search
How long does local authority search take?
How to speed up local authority searches
How much is a local authority search?
How long do local authority searches last?
Summary


When buying a house, you may hear people talking about local authority searches. These are essential to the home buying process. These are not the only searches you need, so check out our other blog ‘which searches are done when buying a house?’ for more information.

While they are not always compulsory, they are highly recommended to have as they provide information about a property and its surrounding area and could save you lots more money in the long run, in case anything was to go wrong with your property that had never been picked up.

This easy guide covers everything you need to know about local authority searches, including what they are, what they include and how long they last.

What’s included in a local authority search?

There are two main parts to a local authority search:

An LLC1 – this is the official certificate of the search form, and it covers any charges or attendant restrictions relating to land or property, for example, things such as tree preservation requests, conservation areas and listed building status.

A CON29 – this part consists of any enquiries of the local authority form and covers environmental factors surrounding the property, such as public highways, proposals for new roads, rail schemes, planning decisions that could affect the property in the future, and so on. 

Personal local authority searches are carried out externally with an independent search agent rather than being affiliated by the council. They’re quicker, cheaper, and covered by search accuracy insurance, so it is no surprise that they’re getting increasingly popular!

There has definitely been a rise in people going down the personal search route in recent years, and there are not really any major cons for both, it is down to you (and your conveyancing solicitor) to decide which type suits you and your situation, here’s just some of the key points for each type:

Personal searchLocal authority search
– Independently carried out
– Often quicker
– Often more affordable
– Covered by insurance
– Carried out by authorities
– Some argue that they offer more
understanding and better search code compliance

How long does local authority search take?

The council usually estimates that the local authority searches take a maximum of 10 days to be returned. However, this can vary depending on a handful of different factors and can take anything from 48 hours to 10 weeks.

These factors that affect how long the searches take include how the searches will be sent back to you (whether sent via post or online), the demand for searches during that time period and the number of staff dealing with them.

How to speed up local authority searches

No matter which type of search you decide to use, there’s not much that can be done to help speed up the process, however, we do advise that you instruct a conveyancing solicitor as soon as your offer has been accepted to start searches and get the ball rolling.

It is also believed that personal searches are quicker, so it could be worth going down this route, but you must check with your solicitor whether you can use that method. 

How much is a local authority search?

The cost of searches varies with different factors, and they also differ by council – but are usually priced at around £50-£250 if carried out by the local authority. This also changes depending on your additional fees, such as drainage fees and environmental fees, but it is worth checking your local authority website for more specific costs.

However, if you choose to have personal searches, companies will usually charge between £70-£120. 

How long do local authority searches last?

The searches are only valid for 6 months prior to the date of completion, and anything past that amount of time means you will have to get them ordered again. For example, if you got your searches carried out in January, you will have until June to have completion before renewing them.

If time is ticking in terms of completion and you are worried that your searches will expire, don’t be afraid to speak to your conveyancing solicitor and ask if you should be looking at ordering more.

Summary

To summarise, searches are not always a compulsory but are a very key part of buying a house. They are there to ensure you know the most information possible about the property you’re buying and therefore can protect you in the long run, should any issues come up.

It can be disheartening to hear that the home you’re buying has some issues, but it is not always bad news, and your solicitor will be there to advise and help you overcome them – after all the searches have your best interest at heart.

Now that you know all about the searches, why not book a free valuation with us now and get your home on the market?

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