Commercial Real Estate and Development

Title Investigation and Searches

Freehold/Leasehold Properties

This involves considering the title documents to check that the Seller/Landlord/Tenant actually owns the premises and to consider what rights restrictions and covenants benefit and burden the land.

Searches and Enquiries that can be undertaken.

A Local Search

This is the most common search undertaken as a minimum and reveals whether there are any planning issues or restrictions affecting the property or whether any statutory charges affect the property.

This search reveals entries affecting the property only not surrounding land nor the rest of a building if you are letting part of a building.

Additional enquiries of the local authority

If you instruct us to undertake a local search it is possible in addition to ask the local authority to provide replies to the following additional questions namely in connection with road proposals by private bodies, public paths or byways, advertisements, completion notices, parks and countryside, pipelines, houses in multiple occupation, noise abatement, urban development areas, enterprise zones, inner urban improvement areas, simplified planning zones, land maintenance notices, mineral consultation areas, hazardous substance contents, environmental and pollution notices, food safety notices, hedgerow notices and in connection with common land, town and village greens.

Drainage and Water Searches

A search of this nature reveals details of water and sewerage assets under and around properties allowing identification of the proper service of properties and any liabilities that owners may incur.

The search also reveals the route of pipes, whether the property is served by public sewers, whether the property is connected to mains water, whether water mains are located within the boundaries of the property in addition to a number of other useful replies to enquiries.

Planning Search

It is possible to undertake a specific planning search which will identify planning applications within a certain radius around the property that you are proposing to lease/purchase. In addition other useful information is contained within the report.

Chancel Repairs Search

If the property is near a church or is on land formerly owned by some of the older universities there may be an obligation to contribute towards repairs to the chancel of the local parish church. This liability is enforceable in the County Court and can apply to properties falling within a Church of England parish which has a vicar or had a vicarage and has a church dating from the medieval period or earlier.

A short chancel repair search is a simple search which reveals whether the property is within the historic boundary of an ecclesiastical parish which continues to have a potential chancel repair liability. It is specific only to the property that you are proposing to lease and will only reveal whether the property falls within a liable parish.

A full property specific chancel repair search can be conducted in person at the National Archives. This will reveal if a particular property has a liability attached to it.

Environmental Search

An environmental search is undertaken to identify any known environmental risks that may attract liabilities or reduce the value of a property. The most important of these is land contamination.

Land owners (including leaseholders) are liable for the costs of the clean up of contaminated land. Properties built on old industrial sites, landfills or petrol stations are amongst those potentially at risk. An environmental search will reveal the historical land use and therefore the potential for land contamination.

This search will also identify potential for flooding and subsidence that could affect insurance ratings and will interrogate statutory and other registers to identify potential impacts including nearby industrial processes, landfill sites and air quality.

In the event that the land that you are leasing or purchasing is contaminated, clearance costs are likely to be substantial. In addition if the contaminant has leached onto an adjoining owners’ land there can be a liability for damages to an adjoining owner too.


If the Tenant / Buyer wishes to use the premises for something other than that for which the premises have been used for in the past or the premises are new, it is very likely that the Tenant/Buyer will need to obtain planning permission for the proposed use/a change of use or mixed use.

It is essential that the correct planning permission is in place before completion otherwise the Landlord could forfeit the lease and/or the planning authority could demand that you return the premises to their previous use, rendering them useless to the Tenant / Buyer.

Email us or go back to our contact details

Our Commercial Real Estate and Development Team

T: 020 7288 4773
Artan Llabjani
I am a Partner and head of the Commercial Real Estate team. Read More
T: 020 7288 4758
Amie Mackay
I am an Associate Solicitor and head of the New Build Real Estate Team. Read More
T: 020 7288 4766
Bradley Ali
I am a solicitor in the Commercial Real Estate team. Read More
T: 020 7288 4768
Andre Demushi
I am a Senior Paralegal in the Enfranchisment team. Read More
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