Commercial Property Local Searches for Tenants

Tenants Commercial Property Guide As a commercial property tenant, you will need to carry out local searches on a commercial property you consider renting. Our guide can help you find out exactly what kind of local searches you need to fulfil.

Local Searches for a Commercial Property

These searches provide research on what has happened and what may happen to a particular property and the surrounding area. The majority of commercial property transactions will require Local Searches to be undertaken as part of the conveyancing process. The main purpose of the Searches is to look into any plans that may affect the property and to ensure there will be no unpleasant surprises and hidden-costs after you have rented the commercial property.

The searches may include research, which details; 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 etc.

The solicitor that you appoint to act on your behalf will apply to the local authority for the relevant 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 undertake other searches to cover eventualities that may affect employees and to eliminate doubt.

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. Please see the HPA (Health Protection Agency) Radon map, which indicates the known areas that are most at risk. Special devices are required to measure radon gas levels. You may wish to seek advice or professional assistance to clarify any risk.

Waterways Search

Flood risk assessments are available and worth obtaining as you may not be able 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.

Chancel Search

This search is undertaken in order to identify whether the property that you are about to buy mayr have a Chancel Repair Liability to the local Parish Church. In other words, you could be forced to pay for repairs to a parish church. The tax goes back to medieval times where land formerly owned by the Church and was taxed to finance the local rector. When the property was sold, the new owner took on the obligation attached to this land. This means that any properties that are located within a parish, could be at risk of a Chancel Repair Liability. Therefore, undertaking of this search is highly recommended to reduce any uncertainty. This liability had been recommended for elimination by the Law Commission in 1985. This was rejected by the Government.

Case Study: A Couple, Andrew and Gail Wallbank were compelled to pay a total of over £400,000 towards the upkeep of St John the Baptist church in Aston Cantlow, Warwickshire. This sum included the court costs after being defeated in a 20 year legal battle. It turned out that this 16th century agreement was still enforceable, which the couple had no idea about when they purchased their property.

Your solicitor will be able to undertake local searches. The third party costs (local councils) will be in the region of £200 – £400 approx (depending on which local authority). The Chancel search is not standard and will incur additional cost of around £100 – £150.


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