Poll results: How often do you order a highways search? With Nick Dyoss

We take driving off of our drive and onto the road as a given, we don’t even think about it: we just do it.

But if you have a quick search on the Internet for ‘ransom strips’ I suspect you will surprised how many stories pop up. With a few notable exceptions they are reported in the local rather than national press which may explain why they go under the radar, but they are surprisingly prevalent.

In October we asked conveyancers: “When conducting a commercial property transaction how often do you order a highways property search?”

The results were as follows:

Interestingly, one in five order in every case which reflects the growing numbers of highways searches which are being conducted each month but I wonder how the case-by-case selection is being made and why one in ten never do?

Almost certainly local and Land Registry searches are conducted for a commercial transaction but neither of those will be detailed enough to clearly identify a potential issue such as a ransom strip.

Another factor in their low overall usage is the poor reputation that highways searches have suffered from historically. They were difficult to get hold of, didn’t have a published price, didn’t have a set format and you didn’t know when you would get it back. All fundamental information which you get with all other searches.

These issues are no longer an issue with highways reports being brought into the search mainstream. For example PlanVal offer a range of official data searches including an interpreted search which highlights potential risks and Landmark offer a personal search version, so there is no lack of choice.

For those that remain sceptical of the need to join the ‘Always’ camp, there is good commentary here on the need to conduct a detailed and specific highways search and not rely upon the local search.

The issue of ransom strips is well-known and the cost of removing them well established by Stokes vs. Cambridge in 1950. So rather than take the risk and rely upon searches that are not designed for the job they are being asked to do, a highways search is a sensible alternative. If issues aren’t identified early on, the consequences can be expensive and drag on for many years before they are resolved.

To find out more, please speak to your local account manager, contact us on 0844 249 9200 or email helpdesk@tmgroup.co.uk

For further reference of cases involving highways disputes, please see below:

Church accused in housing scheme row

Property nightmare: Held to ransom

Broken Home of Cricket: the ongoing row over development at Lord’s