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What checks and searches are involved in conveyancing?

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What is conveyancing?

Conveyancing is the legal process of transferring property from one person to another, which begins once an offer has been accepted on a property. This process can be conducted by a licensed conveyancer or a conveyancing solicitor.

As well as getting the right documents transferred, your conveyancer will conduct various searches to check for any problems with the property before you buy it. It is your responsibility as the buyer, to check the suitability of the property before agreeing to purchase it, therefore these checks and searches are essential to give you the opportunity to make an informed decision.

Common conveyancing checks

Your conveyancer will carry out a number of searches during the conveyancing process, with the following being the most common:

Local Authority Search – A local authority search or LAS, will reveal, among other things, if the property is a listed building, if it is located in a conservation area, if it is situated in a smoke control zone or if it is subject to planning permissions. It could also reveal if any specific notices or other matters for that property are recorded in the Local Authority registers. Essentially the search checks to see if anything in the local area is likely to affect the property.

Water and drainage search – A water and drainage search will check to see how the property is connected to water supplies and sewer systems. This will normally cover things like how the water is charged, whether any water mains or public sewers run through the property. This is particularly important to know, because the council or water company may have to gain access to the mains which can affect what modifications you can make to the property.

Environmental search – An environmental search is used to check if the land the property is built on was ever used for industrial activity in the past. This is important as it can highlight any potential health hazards from contamination in the ground or from water flowing from an old industrial site nearby.

Flood report – A flood report can assess the risk of flooding to the property. If the property is a flood risk it can affect the ability to get insurance cover and a mortgage, which can significantly devalue the property. This report may be recommended within the Environmental search.

Mining search – A mining search checks for any evidence of mining activity near or beneath the property in the past. This is important because if mining tunnels are not properly filled in after use, they are at risk of caving in which can cause subsidence or damage to the buildings above. This is not only dangerous but can devalue the property and can affect insurance premiums.

Chancel repair search – Some properties stand on land that is still liable to contribute to the cost of repairs to the chancel of the parish church. Although it is an ancient Medieval law, churches do have the right to demand payments from affected property owners. The cost of repairs can sometimes run into the thousands. Due to recent changes in the law it is only sometimes necessary to carry out this search. However, where relevant, it’s important to check if the property is affected by this.

Building surveys

While not strictly part of the conveyancing process, it is strongly recommended to get a building survey of the property you are buying. This is particularly important if the building is older, is a listed building or if you are planning on renovating or changing the structure of the building in any way.

Where you are having a mortgage your lender will have a basic valuation carried out but this is not a full survey and is not carried out for your benefit.

Building surveys range from the most basic condition report which uses a simple traffic light system to identify defects to a full building survey which describes the condition of each element of the house in detail and will highlight any defects and the amount of work and cost required to repair them.

Whichever type of survey you choose, it should be carried out by a member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) to ensure you get expert advice from trained professionals.

Get expert advice on conveyancing

At Bird & Co, we are proud accredited members of the Conveyancing Quality Scheme, so you can be sure our expert solicitors can effectively and reliably handle your entire property transaction for you.

If you need help with any type of property transaction, large or small, call us today on 01476 372 036, or use the enquiry form at the top of this page.