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Find out information about the land your property is built on for a fixed fee of £215 INC VAT.

The report checks: Local Land Charges as well as Planning and Building Regulations.

Local Authority Search

(Last Updated: 19/02/2024)
6 min read
Buying a house is a complex process, often involving multiple steps that require careful consideration and investigation. It’s not all about making an offer and hoping for the best.

One of these steps involves ordering property searches, which provide crucial information about the property that the seller might not be privy to.

These searches might even unearth damages or other serious issues that could dissuade the buyer from proceeding with the transaction. In this context, it is important to understand the role of local authority searches.

What is meant by a local authority search?

The local authority search, which is the most critical among the standard property searches, offers detailed insights about the land on which the property stands. Mortgage lenders expect this search from those purchasing a property with a mortgage, to highlight potential threats or challenges that might impact the property's value or usability.

For cash buyers, though not mandatory, a local authority search is highly recommended due to the valuable information it delivers, information that the seller is unlikely to provide.

This search examines matters such as local land charges (including, for example, tree preservation orders) and details on planning applications relevant to the property, restrictions on permitted development, road schemes and contaminated land. All information is derived from the local authority.

There are two types of local authority search:

  • Regulated Personal Search
  • Official Search

If you're trying to choose between Regulated or Official Local Authority Search, you should know that all the information you need is included in the personal search. The only difference is that the personal search (also known as a Regulated Search) is carried out by the employee of a search provider, who visits the council office and inspects and records the information kept by the LA.

It includes accurate and up-to-date information on issues affecting your property including planning proposals, traffic schemes, conservation areas and any compulsory purchase orders in the area.

What Does a Local Authority Search Reveal?

A local authority search typically consists of several sections, such as:

The main sections are:
  • A list of relevant entries in the Local Charges Register (includes e.g. tree preservation and smoke control orders)
  • Information on planning applications relevant to the property (granted or refused)
  • Building control history
  • Any enforcement action
  • Restrictions on permitted development
  • Nearby road schemes
  • Contaminated land
  • Radon gas information
Regulated Local Authority Search

You can ask additional questions relating to public rights of way, areas of outstanding beauty, pipeline and pollution notices, or town/village greens. This is called a Con29 Optional form or a "CON29".

The CON29 is an enquiry form designed to provide potential home buyers with information that relates to their new property and in some cases the area where the property is situated. It provides information on items in existence as well as items that are in the pipe line/being considered and/or awaiting approval.

It is often these items that without the CON29 enquiry form would go unnoticed and have a material effect on the future use, development and enjoyment as well as laying a financial burden on the property. The majority of this information comes from within the local authority or from the County Council (where applicable).

A CON29 enquiry form can be completed by either the local authority or another body. However, the Local Authority completed CON29 is backed by insurance and is commonly referred to as an ‘official CON29’. The CON29 covers a set of standard enquiries of local authorities such as:
  • Major road proposals
  • Traffic schemes
  • Road adoption status such as right of way

Do I need a local authority search?

Undertaking a local authority search is highly recommended because it examines preservation and control orders, which, if existent, might significantly impact your enjoyment of your property. Besides, it highlights potential areas of concern that your conveyancing solicitor might advise you to investigate further.

For example, subsidence, energy and infrastructure and radon issues may be indicated. You can always get specific, more detailed reports, should any of this happen.

Some mortgage lenders stipulate that you are only able to satisfy their conditions if you buy an official search.

  • Banks and Clients Plc
  • Buckinghamshire Building Society
  • DB UK Bank Ltd
  • Fleet Mortgages
  • GE Money Home Lending Ltd (has withdrawn from the UK mortgage market)
  • Leek United Building Society
  • Loughborough Building Society
  • Mortgage Agency Services
  • Nedbank Private Wealth Ltd
  • New Street Mortgages
  • Paragon Mortgages Ltd
  • Paratus AMC Ltd
  • Parity Trust
  • Penrith Building Society
  • Pepper Homeloans
  • Platform (a trading name of The Co-Operative Bank Plc)
  • Stafford Railway Building Society
  • State Bank of India UK

How long does it take to get local authority searches?

This search takes the longest to return. This makes it very important to book early if you wish to give yourself the best chance of speeding up your conveyancing process. Councils have different turnaround times, ranging from 3 days to 25 days and, unfortunately, not all Local Authorities accept expedition of searches.

However, there are still many local authorities that do offer a fast track local authority option for an extra fee. Search turnaround can be anything from 48 hours to six weeks, so If you are able to fast track, this might mean that the search would come back in 2 weeks instead of maybe 3 to 6.

We recommend you speak to your solicitor or search provider when ordering your searches to see what your options are. Find out the individual Timescales or check the turnaround times by local authority down below.

Frequently Asked Questions
Caragh Bailey, Digital Marketing Manager
Written by:

Caragh is an excellent writer in her own right as well as an accomplished copy editor for both fiction and non-fiction books, news articles and editorials. She has written extensively for SAM for a variety of conveyancing, survey and mortgage related articles.

Andrew Boast of Sam Conveyancing
Reviewed by:
Andrew started his career in 2000 working within conveyancing solicitor firms and grew hands on knowledge of a wide variety of conveyancing challenges and solutions. After helping in excess of 50,000 clients in his career, he uses all this experience within his article writing for SAM, mainstream media and his self published book How to Buy a House Without Killing Anyone.
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