Selling a Commercial Property – Carrying Out Local Searches

Commercial Property Selling Guide Local Searches are usually the responsibility of commercial property purchasers. Some landlords provide a comprehensive pack for their buyers. Read our guide on Local Searches to make your commercial property sale go smoothly and successfully.

Local Searches Relating to Selling a Commercial Property

Although local Searches are usually carried out at the buyer’s cost, some proactive commercial property sellers carry them out at their own cost, in order to achieve a quicker and more effective sale process. This may make their commercial properties more attractive to prospective buyers. Given the cost of producing this pack, it may be a worthwhile exercise, as this cost is usually a very small percentage of the overall sale price.

These searches research what has happened and what may happen to a particular property and the surrounding area. The majority of transactions in commercial properties will require the Local Searches to be carried out as part of the conveyancing process. The main purpose of the Searches is to look into any plans that may affect the property either an adverse or positive way and to ensure there will be no surprises and hidden-costs after the property has been purchased.

The searches may include research on the details of; Planning applications that may be relevant to the property either current or historic, building control history, nearby road schemes and motorways, developments and contaminated land, new sewer and drain schemes and any compulsory purchase orders.

The solicitor that you appoint will act on your behalf and apply to the local authority for the local searches. The process typically takes around two to three weeks (although some local authorities may take longer). You can expedite these searches at extra additional cost by instructing an agent to carry out a personal search.

You may wish to carry out other searches to cover eventualities that may affect potential buyers and eliminate doubt. These could make your commercial property more appealing to prospective buyers.

Radon Gas Search

This is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that emanates out of rocks below the surface. High levels are known to cause cancer. How many people have heard of Radon Gas Search? Please refer to the HPA (Health Protection Agency) Radon map , which indicates the known areas and those at risk. Special devices are required to measure the radon gas levels. These areas are mainly the South East Midlands and the South West of the country. You may wish to seek advice or professional assistance to clarify any risk.

Flood Assessment Search

The risk assessments are available for flooding in your area and worth applying for, as you may be unable to insure your property or business if you are within a flood zone. The Environmental Agency updates the records regularly and a search should reveal whether the property is at risk. Flash floods have been a phenomena of the last decade but information is available of where these have occurred.

Chancel Liability Search and potential risk

This is a little known piece of law and many professionals may be unaware of potential liabilities.

This search is undertaken in order to identify whether the property that you are about to buy may have a Chancel Repair Liability in favour of the local Parish Church. You may purchase a property and the become responsible to pay for repairs to a parish church. The tax was initiated in medieval times where land formerly owned by the Church was assessed to raise money for the local rector. When the property was sold or transferred, the new owner took on the obligation attached to that land. This liability can affect any properties that are located within a parish and there could be a risk of a Chancel Repair Liability being called upon. Given the potential liability, undertaking this search is strongly recommended to remove any uncertainty and unpleasant surprises. This tax was recommended for elimination by the Law Commission in 1985 but was rejected by the Government at the time.

Chancel Repair Liability Case Study: Married couple, Andrew and Gail Wallbank were forced to pay in excess of £400,000 towards the repairs of St John the Baptist church in Aston Cantlow, including the legal costs after losing a 20 year legal battle. It turned out that this 16th century agreement was still enforceable, which the couple had no idea about.

Your solicitor will be able to undertake local searches. The local authority cost of the searches will be charged at between £200 to £400 approx (depending on which local council provides the service). The Chancel Liability Search is not standard. The cost of providing this search is approximately £100 to £150.


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