Do I need to carry out property searches?

Do I need to carry out property searches?

We are often asked this question by clients wanting to proceed to a speedy exchange or complete without the aid of a mortgage.

If the property is subject to a mortgage, your lender will insist on certain searches being carried out. The type of search required will depend on which bank you are borrowing from. There are many searches that can now be requested including the Local Authority, Water and Drainage, Environmental, Chancel Repair, Coal Mining, HS2 and Crossrail and Plan Search, to name just a few.

However, even if you are not to finance your purchase with the aid of a mortgage, we still strongly recommend that you at least request the following searches:

Local search

This is effected to ascertain whether there is anything now appearing on the council’s records that suggests that your seller has any plans for the property or has carried out any works and requested planning permission and building regulation consent for these. Such items may adversely affect the value or enjoyment of the property or could involve you in unexpected cost.

It will also reveal:

  • whether the council has responsibility for the road on which the property stands;
  • whether the property is in a smoke control area, so only smokeless fuel may be burned at the property;
  • whether the property is in a conservation area which places restrictions on building and demolition works;
  • whether there is a tree preservation order in place which may affect some of the trees at the property and prevent you from lopping, topping or felling any trees; and
  • whether the property is within an area where the local authority has imposed controls over houses in multiple occupation. Failure to register a property as HMO could lead to prosecution and a fine.

Water and Drainage search

The Drainage Search result shows the location of the public sewers in the vicinity of the property.

A satisfactory search will show:

  • Foul and surface water drainage from the property into a public sewer.
  • The property is connected to the water mains.

The Water and Drainage Search does not show or discuss:

  • The state and condition of the drains and sewers. Therefore, you will need to commission a separate drains test expert if you wish to make further investigations into the state and condition of the drains, to satisfy yourself that there is nothing of concern to you. Any test of this nature should be carried out prior to exchange so that an adverse test result can be used, if you require, to try and negotiate a contribution towards the cost of drainage repairs or a reduction in the purchase price.
  • The location or state and condition of the private drains and sewers, leading from your property to the public sewer. From 1st October 2011 the law changed to provide for the water authority to take responsibility for any shared drains and sewers serving properties and not just the public sewer as before. You will continue to take responsibility for any private drains and sewers which exclusively serve the property, however, but only to such point as they meet shared of public drains and sewers.

If you would like any more information in relation to this article then please feel free to contact me via email: or visit my profile.

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