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To search or not to search? Why this up-front cost could save you time and money down the line

14th June 2018

If you are considering buying or renting a property, your legal advisor may recommend various property searches as part of a sensible information-gathering process before you commit to the deal.

One search on their list is likely to be an environmental desktop search to provide details of land use in the vicinity of the property, as well as information to help establish whether those uses might have caused any potential contamination.

There are many search providers to choose from and, depending on the type of property in question, the fees they charge may seem steep – so why should you bother?

It is all about establishing and reducing future risks. If the land belonging to a property you purchase is found to be contaminated and the person who caused the contamination cannot be located, your local authority could look to you as the owner to pay the cost of cleaning up the land and removing any contamination, even if you did not cause the contamination. It is also worth bearing in mind that if you are buying the property with the financial support of a lender, this search is likely to be one of your lender’s requirements.

A standard search reports on the distance of a property from nearby potential contaminative uses such as landfill and waste sites or other industrial sites, while a more detailed search will give you a concise pass or fail answer taking into account specific nearby contaminative uses and highlighting any further action that may be required of a would-be purchaser. Some search types will also identify whether the property is within an area at risk of flooding, which is important as flood-risk can have an adverse impact on raising a mortgage, the value of your property, and the cost of insurance premiums.

However, if your searches do throw up negative results do not fear – there are ways to deal with such issues and your solicitor should be able to raise the relevant enquiries to provide you with the details you will need to make an informed decision. Chances are, the one-off cost of a search at the outset of your purchase could prevent a multitude of issues further down the line.

For more information on property law or for advice and support with your sale or purchase, contact the George Ide team on 01243 786668 or email us at info@georgeide.co.uk.

Ariaan Wilson. Solicitor, commercial property department

Business, Commercial Property, General, George Ide, News, Residential Property Conveyancing
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