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What is a Local Authority Search?

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A local authority search is a report that provides information on a range of factors related to a property and its local area. The report is typically prepared by the local council and requested by a buyer’s solicitor. But when they happen and how long they take can vary hugely. Let’s explore how long local authority searches take and the factors that can influence this timeframe.

Local authority search and what they tell us?

Local authority searches provide valuable information about a property and its surrounding area, such as planning permissions, building regulations, and other essential details that may impact your decision to buy.

They are an essential part of the conveyancing process when buying a property and involve contacting the relevant local authority to obtain information about the property and its surrounding area. Local authority searches typically consist of two parts:

Local Land Charges Register (LLC1): This search provides information on any financial or legal obligations tied to the property, such as tree preservation orders, conservation areas, and listed building status.

Con29 Enquiries: This search provides additional information about the property, such as road schemes, planning permissions, and environmental factors.

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A local authority search breakdown:


This will include information on any planning applications, consents, or restrictions that affect the property. This may include details of any proposed developments or changes to the area that could affect the property.

Building regulations

Providing information on any building regulations that apply to the property, including any outstanding enforcement notices or restrictions.


Information on any proposed or existing road schemes, public footpaths or rights of way, or other issues that could affect access to the property.

Environmental issues

Provides detail on any potential environmental hazards or issues, such as contaminated land or noise pollution.

Conservation areas

If the property is located in a conservation area, the search will provide information on any restrictions or requirements that apply to the property.

Drainage and water

Shows information on the location of public drains and sewers, as well as any water supply or drainage issues that could affect the property.

How long do local authority searches take?

The length of time local authority searches can take varies widely depending on several factors.

On average, you can expect local authority searches to take between 1-6 weeks! However, there are instances where searches can take longer or shorter periods. Factors that can influence the duration of local authority searches include:

Local authority workload: a busy local authority may take longer to process and return search results.

Type of property: this can impact the time it takes to complete local authority searches. For instance, a property in a conservation area or with a complicated planning history may require more extensive searches and take longer to process.

Complexity of the searches: if additional enquiries are needed, this can extend the process further.

The efficiency of your conveyancer: the importance of engaging a proactive conveyancer cannot be underestimated. An experienced conveyancer can expedite the process by promptly submitting the required search requests and following up with the local authority as needed.

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Online vs. Manual Searches

Many local authorities now offer online search services, which can significantly reduce the time it takes to complete a search. However, if your local authority only provides manual searches, then expect the process to take longer due to the additional time needed for postal communication.

Tips for speeding up local authority searches

While the duration of local authority searches can vary, understanding the factors that influence the timeframe can help you better manage your expectations.

By engaging an experienced conveyancer and submitting search requests promptly, you can help to ensure that your local authority searches are completed as efficiently as possible, helping you move forward in the property buying process with confidence.

While you can’t control every aspect of the local authority search process, here are a few steps you can take to help expedite the process:

  1. Hire an experienced conveyancer: An experienced conveyancer can help to streamline the process by promptly submitting search requests and following up with the local authority as needed.
  2. Submit search requests as early as possible: The sooner your conveyancer submits the search requests, the quicker you’ll receive the results.
  3. Opt for online searches where available: Online searches can reduce the time it takes to receive search results significantly. Check with your local authority to see if they offer this service.
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Should buyers see this information sooner?

We think so, yes! The information provided in searches impacts a buyer’s decision whether to buy a property or not.

Getting this important information at the conveyancing stage means you are incurring legal fees whether you buy or not. For example, if you decide to withdraw your offer as a result of something in the local searches, you will still have to pay the search fees plus your solicitors fees.

Last Updated: April 4th, 2023

Phil Spencer

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