Local authority searches are carried out as part of the house buying process when purchasing or remortgaging land.
The local authority search is made up of 3 parts. Part one is the local land charges register which reveals restrictions or conditions that may apply to the land/property i.e financial charges, conditional planning consents, tree preservation orders, listed buildings, conservation areas etc. Part 2 is the Con29(R) required which reveals non-conditional planning consents, building regulations, highways and housing and environmental information. Part 3 is the Con29(O) optional which has questions that are not included in a standard reply such as noise abatement notices, hazardous substance notices to name just a few
The Infrastructure Act 2015 handed responsibility for the 336 local land charges registers to HM Land Registry in a phased approach, the first of which took place in 2018. The government has realised the need for data to be provided at a greater pace more now than ever to support the UK economy and the new system should help make the house buying process simpler, faster and cheaper by standardising and moving the register to one accessible place. Certainly during the the last year the delays with obtaining searches has caused considerable frustration for many conveyancing clients as the amount of conveyancing work has increased substantially but the service provided by local search departments has suffered due to lack of staff able to deal with the large number of search applications.
The new system now allows anyone to access the new local land charges service via https://search-local-land-charges.service.gov.uk/. Solicitors can access this through their Land Registry portal accounts or alternatively search providers can access the data. Local Authorities continue to provide the replies to CON29 enquiries however. When you use the new service you have the ability to download a personal search for free or an official search for £15
Once a local authority’s local land charge data is transferred to the Land Registry you will no longer be able to obtain any local land charges search results from the local authority.
For 2021/2022 there are currently over another 60 local authorities working with the land registry to migrate their data to the new system and the Land Registry are reaching out to remaining local authorities to begin the migration process.
There are many benefits to the search system including a state backed guarantee, standard fee of £15 for each search, instant online results with 24/7 access, clear and full details of every charge appears on your result, access via the dashboard to all of your searches done at any time and consistent accurate data that you can rely on.
Local authorities will still be required to provide any required documents on request and respond to enquiries following issue of the search results.
Time will tell how well the system operates and aids to speed up the process as more local authorities continue to add their data to the new system.
03 June, 2021
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