What are Solicitor Searches When Buying a House?

Property solicitors in Glasgow perform various searches as part of the property-buying process to identify any issues that could compromise your purchase decision. The searches typically consist of checks on the title register and title plan held at the Land Registry, as well as whether or not a property lies near a church and therefore subject to chancel repair contributions, is on contaminated land, is located within a conservation area, etc.


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Environmental Search

Property solicitors in Glasgow will conduct this search as part of the conveyancing process to detect any environmental or health risks related to purchasing the property that could affect your decision, such as toxic chemicals, asbestos exposure, or radon risks.

Search providers have access to extensive databases that enable them to evaluate if land has been used for industrial purposes or is near gas plants or landfill sites, which could expose future occupiers to hazardous by-products that contaminate the ground and pose health risks. In addition, searches reveal whether properties lie within flood-risk areas, which can have significant ramifications on mortgage affordability and insurance premiums.

Environmental searches typically cost £50 each and should be part of a comprehensive conveyancing search pack along with local authority and drainage searches. If any discrepancies in results arise, your conveyancer may suggest additional searches, such as coal mining or flood risk assessments.

Drainage Search

A drainage search will reveal whether or not a property is connected to the mains water and sewerage systems or has private drains within its boundaries, and also whether its water supply is metered or rateable—factors that could greatly impact its costs of operation and maintenance and could impact any planned extensions or building works that may take place.

Mortgaged properties often require this search, while cash buyers should consider doing it for peace of mind. Your solicitor will arrange this investigation by reaching out to the relevant water authority for information and compiling a report from them.

Searches should be carried out as soon as your offer has been accepted and before exchanging contracts. Otherwise, delays could arise due to long turnaround times for results, especially if local council IT issues cause significant delays (e.g., Hackney currently has a 171-day turnaround). It’s essential that regular contact is maintained with your conveyancing lawyer so they can track down anything that needs attention quickly.

Chancel Repair Search

Chancel repair searches are legal investigations to ascertain if a property is responsible for contributing towards the cost of maintaining and repairing their local parish church’s chancel. Based on mediaeval laws, this ancient legal obligation could leave homeowners facing eye-watering bills for repairs unless properly insured against such costs.

Chancel searches typically utilise a “chancel check search”, which provides only generalised information regarding whether a property lies within an area liable to charge. A more expensive but thorough ‘full chancel search” reveals whether or not actual ownership of the subject property itself bears responsibility.

Since October 13, 2013, churches are no longer able to register chancel repair notices against registered titles; however, this doesn’t remove all risks; prudent solicitors will still conduct chancel searches or advise home buyers taking out insurance in relation to this liability, with the costs being relatively minor when considering potential dangers.

Coal mining search

Coal mining was an important component of British industry for decades and continues to have an effect in certain areas through subsidence or gas emissions from past mining operations. Your mortgage lender often requires a coal mine search as part of their underwriting criteria to make sure you aren’t buying in an area known to be problematic.

The Coal Authority conducts mining searches to provide an objective evaluation of whether or not the land you’re buying has ever been subjected to previous mining activity. A report will reveal if there are any active mine entries within 20 metres of your property’s boundary; additionally, this can also reveal any subsidence claims against neighbouring properties.

Reports are developed according to agreed reporting criteria established by a committee comprising representatives from the Law Society, RICS, and the Council of Mortgage Lenders to ensure consistency in coal mining search inquiries. Our searches come at various prices depending on your required level of detail. At Lifetime Legal, we include official CON29M searches as part of our fixed-fee conveyancing service package.

Local Authority Search

A local authority search can reveal any obligations, restrictions, or charges that will impact the property you’re buying. These could include anything from planning applications that might limit how you use the land to public footpaths or highways in the vicinity—to whether the building was constructed on contaminated land or was ever subject to flooding in the past.

Mortgaged buyers must obtain this search, while cash buyers often choose to have it conducted. Your solicitor will advise on which level is appropriate based on your circumstances.

Remember, searches cannot capture everything. A couple who bought a house in a new development were shocked to discover that plans for heavy traffic at the entrance would pass directly through their front door! As such, it is wise to visit properties during rush hour traffic conditions, school drop-off times, or pub closing times in order to accurately assess them.

How Solicitors Help  When Buying a Property in Glasgow?

When purchasing property, it’s essential that you use property solicitors in Glasgow. They will review the contract of sale and all related documentation, arrange a survey of the property, conduct environmental, flooding, and drainage searches, as well as carry out environmental and flooding searches.

A solicitor specialises in non-trial legal work and typically offers fixed price quotes for their services.


Legal processes surrounding property transfers can be intimidating even for experienced home buyers, making the entire conveyancing process time-consuming and complex. A solicitor or conveyancer will need to conduct this legal work, known as conveyancing, which typically takes 12 weeks from start to finish.

Due to their legal training and experience, solicitors need to review many documents related to real estate purchases, including seller deeds, property searches, personal and identity verification processes, checking mortgage lenders, and preparing a contract for signature. A solicitor can also negotiate contractual terms, such as reducing the sale price or agreeing timescales for work to be completed prior to the completion of the purchase agreement.

When purchasing a leasehold property, your solicitor will verify whether there is ground rent, the annual service charge amount and the terms of your lease agreement. They will also draw up title deeds and register them with the Land Registry.

Therefore, engaging the services of an experienced conveyancer when purchasing property is of utmost importance. Habito takes care of organising everything from mortgage applications and legal work through survey completion, with your personal case manager serving as your guide throughout the entire process—all from one convenient dashboard.

Planning Permission

Planning permission is required before any alterations to buildings or land can take place and can either be granted with conditions attached or denied outright.

Before purchasing a property, it is crucial to determine whether a planning application has been submitted. Planning permission may be needed for any development that includes adding exterior features, altering usage, or internal renovations requiring permission.

However, certain changes do not require planning permission and can be completed without needing a permit. Examples include adding or redecorating without altering the structure of a home (such as adding a conservatory). If in doubt about whether planning permission is needed for your project, get in touch with your local authority for clarification.

Section 106 agreements allow local councils to collect monetary contributions from developers for affordable housing or traffic management projects. While not usually attached to small development applications, Section 106 agreements should be carefully considered when in doubt about your new property’s planning requirements.

Your solicitor will carefully go through all the above documents and property searches to ensure there are no issues that might halt your purchase, from discrepancies in the deeds to an environmental search indicating a possible flood risk.

Stamp Duty

When purchasing property, the solicitor is in charge of verifying all paperwork. They will perform land registry searches to make sure the seller owns it and no one has an outstanding claim to it; negative property searches to reveal potential problems such as flooding risks or contamination; planning permission granted or denied status and any possible flooding risks; as well as checking whether the seller legally can sell (this may require an epitome of title).

After their conveyancing work is complete, solicitors will be responsible for managing the transfer of funds between both parties and will oversee this transfer between accounts. They should make sure deposits and mortgage funds reach their clients before exchanging contracts and that building insurance is in place before doing so.

After your sale has closed, your solicitor will file and pay any stamp duty due on the completion date, as well as claim any relief available to you from stamp duty land tax. They’ll also register the change of ownership with the Land Registry and obtain a new title deed before sending copies directly to mortgage lenders and registering your purchase change with the Land Registry, with all copies going directly back into circulation upon closing!


Once the deposit has been transferred to your property solicitor, they will apply for the mortgage loan with your bank and conduct fraud checks to validate you and all parties involved in the transaction. Furthermore, they will carry out property searches to inform you about issues such as planning permission approval or denial status for houses, drainage access points, and whether the land contains contaminants.

Once a sale price has been agreed upon with the seller, your solicitor will draft a draft contract for sale, which will then be sent for approval by their solicitor. This document includes information such as all parties to the transaction, exchange and completion dates, deposit amounts, and purchase prices.

Before they will release mortgage funds, lenders usually require that the property undergo an independent survey by a certified building surveyor. Your solicitor will usually arrange this on your behalf; this incurs an additional cost.

At this stage, the solicitor will contact the local authority and gather any outstanding issues that pertain to your property. They will also obtain a certificate of title to make sure there are no ‘title defects’ that might compromise its use for you. Finally, they will obtain a Land Information Memorandum Report (LIM), which provides comprehensive details regarding planning permission, building control issues, and environmental concerns associated with it.