When buying a property it is usual for purchasers to let the solicitors do their job of scrutinising the legal paperwork and reporting back. This typically includes submitting searches to various authorities in order to reveal any nearby planning applications, infrastructure changes, flood risks, chancel repair obligations, etc.

Your solicitor will also submit “standard” enquiries, such as asking for confirmation that the property will be sold with full vacant possession and asks to inspect any relevant certificates, such as planning approval, building consent etc for any works that might have been done to the property. But what if works, such as an extension, have been done without consent – how will your solicitor know to check if planning permission has been obtained unless you tell him/her about something that might not yet appear on the Land Registry plan?

Your solicitor has not seen the property and may not therefore make relevant enquiries in relation to how you intend using it. For example, if you are buying a rural house and you especially enjoy the country views, you should tell solicitor this. Only then can they investigate whether your neighbour has EVER applied for planning permission to build on their field, even if there is no current application pending.

Perhaps the property has a large garage which would be perfect for your planned car repair business. In this case, your conveyancer would need to check if there are any local planning regulations that prohibit this. It could even be that there are historic restrictive covenants on painting your property any colour other than cream, or parking a caravan on your driveway. While some solicitors will suggest insurance to cover the cost of any financial implications of a breach of such prohibitions, you could still be left with a practical disappointment that could affect your planned enjoyment of the property.

So our advice is to be especially open with your solicitor – describe the property fully, especially in relation to recent modifications, as well as your own plans for it, and you are more likely to avoid any unexpected delays, or worse, post-completion disappointments.

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