Buying commercial property involves carrying out a number of professional searches. These are a range of enquiries that are sent to different bodies at the beginning of a property transaction.

The type of searches required vary and will depend on the location of the property, and what you are intending to do with it – develop or occupy. In some instances, technical searches may also be required.

The results of the searches could influence how or even whether you proceed with the transaction.

These are the different searches that might need to be considered:

Local Land Charges searches check:

  • Conditions that may be attached to planning permissions relating to the property
  • Planning enforcement orders that may exist
  • Registered financial charges over the property – outstanding payments, perhaps for emergency work carried out in the past

Local Authority searches check:

  • Important information relating to the property and its immediate surroundings
  • Who has responsibility for maintaining the road that the property fronts
  • Details of any planning consents applied for, granted or refused, including the permitted use of the property
  • Whether the property is a listed building or in a conservation area
  • Building regulations applied for and granted
  • Proposed road schemes

Commons Registration searches check:

  • The property is not registered as common land or part of a village green

Mining searches check:

  • Whether the property may be affected by coal mining activity which may result in subsidence

Drainage and Water searches check:

  • Whether the property is connected to the mains water supply
  • Whether foul or surface water drains into a public sewer
  • Establishes whether the property is served by a private sewerage system
  • Reveals whether there is consent to discharge trade effluent

Environmental search

This is a report that assesses environmental factors that may affect the property, including contamination, flooding and subsidence. This search is important on a number of points:

  • The owner or occupier of contaminated land can be held responsible for cleaning up any contamination, even if they did not cause the pollution; this could be a very expensive liability
  • If the property is being purchased with a loan, the lender will insist on this type of search
  • It is also important if you’re considering a change of use or want to redevelop the site

Chancel repairs

This report establishes whether the property lies within a parish that carries a risk of liability to contribute towards the cost of repairs to the chancel of the local church. Such a liability could have a serious impact on the property’s title, value and marketability. However, it is possible to arrange insurance cover if a potential risk is identified.




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