News & Insights

In Search of a Commercial Property…

Searches are normally carried out for purchasers of property, prior to exchange of contracts. In commercial property transactions, the seller will often include search results as part of their sales pack, in the interest of speed.

Search results are important as they can reveal issues with the property, which may not be identifiable on inspection.

The appropriate pre-exchange searches/surveys to be carried will vary according to each property. However, the following are obtained on most commercial transactions:

Search/Survey Brief Description
Local land charges search and local authority search Normally contained in one document, reveals information on many matters including planning permissions, building regulation consents, enforcement notices, compulsory purchase orders, tree preservation orders, road scheme proposals
Environmental (desktop) search Assesses the risk of the land being contaminated, based on collected data. If a risk is identified, intrusive searches should be done. Removing contamination can be expensive. If the person responsible for the contamination cannot be found, the owner may have to remedy it.
Drainage and water search Reveals if the property is connected to mains water supply and mains drainage.
Chancel repair search Shows whether any contributions required towards repair costs to the chancel of a parish church. Changes in the law in 2013 may affect your liability.
Asbestos survey Those responsible for the repair and maintenance of a property have a duty to manage asbestos, which can be expensive. A professional survey should be arranged.
Fire risk assessment The RRFSO 2005 imposes fire safety duties and a purchaser can become liable for breaches by the seller. Lack of compliance may also vitiate buildings insurance. A qualified risk assessor should survey the property.
Highways search Confirms the extent of the public highway and whether the property abuts it
Search of the Index Map (SIM) Confirms whether the property is registered at the Land Registry and under what title number(s)
Company search Verifies company exists and there is nothing registered against the company that may affect the property


Search results are not all-encompassing and events affecting the property can of course occur after the date of the search. However, they do provide a good source of information necessary for those investing valuable time and money in acquiring a property.

Please contact our Property team at Foskett Marr Gadsby & Head LLP (at Epping and Loughton) on 01992 578 642 ( for further information.