Clients often ask “do we need searches”.  Depending on your circumstances the answer is both yes and no.  If you are purchasing with the aid of a Mortgage, then the answer will always be yes, as this is one of many requirements that a lender insists upon.  If however you are lucky enough to be able to purchase without the need for a mortgage, then the answer is no.  However, we always recommend that you obtain searches in either circumstances as they provide information specific to the property, that sometimes could determine whether or not you proceed with your purchase.

The three main searches that are recommended by your legal advisors are, Local Authority Search, Water & Drainage Search, Environmental Search.

So, what information does a search provide?

Local Authority Search

There are two parts to a local authority search – a LLC1 and a CON29. The LLC1 – Local Land Charge Register search – covers any charges or attendant restrictions relating to land or property. These can include whether the property is:

  • a listed building
  • located in a conservation area
  • subject to a tree protection order
  • in need of an improvement or renovation grant
  • or situated in a smoke control zone

The form also covers planning agreements and conditional planning permissions. All LLC1 registrations are legally binding on successive owners.

The second part of the search – the CON29 – supplies information relating to public highways, proposals for new roads, rail schemes or planning decisions that could affect the property, as well as outstanding statutory notices, breaches of planning or building regulations or the existence of a compulsory purchase order. Environmental factors, such as whether the house stands on contaminated land or in a Radon gas affected area are also covered.

In Torbay the current turn around for the result of a Local Search is approximately 5 weeks, although some Local Authorities can return this in 3 working days.

Water & Drainage Search

A Water and Drainage Search ensures that the property being purchased is safe from any flooding, leaking or damp caused by public waterways and drains.

It will provide the following:-

  • detailed information from the water authority’s technical and asset database;
  • a coloured location plan showing water mains, public foul and surface water meters in proximity of the property;
  • includes verification of Building-over Agreements and details of Section 104 Adoption Agreements on new property developments;
  • includes billing and metering information.

The result for this search is normally returned in 3 – 5 working days.

Environmental Search

This Report provides comprehensive information on nearby toxic or explosive substances and local industrial and mining activity. The environmental search report provides advice on the risks associated with the property being determined as Contaminated Land under Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.  It also includes an assessment of flood risk and comes with a professional opinion from a chartered environmental surveyor.

It will also provide you with:-

  • details of past and present industrial land use;
  • the location of nearby landfill and waste management sites and details of any storage sites for hazardous substances within 500m of the property;
  • confirmation of whether the property is in or close to a radon affected area (which is quite a common result throughout Devon);
  • ground stability information;
  • if there are any influential factors that affect the property, for example, any overhead transmission lines, masts or pylons within 250m of the property;

The result for this search is normally returned on the same day.

Sometimes, depending on the area, these searches will recommend extra searches to be carried out, which are not necessary for your lender, but could still prove useful to see the result of and these could include:-

  • Chancel Repair Liability Search
  • Planning Search
  • Coal/Clay/Tin Mining
  • Terra Search Assure
  • Energy Search

For further information, please contact Ella Brennan, a Residential Conveyancer in the Property Department in WBW’s Torquay office on 01803 382803 or email

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.