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Why do mortgage lenders conduct a water authority search?

Why do mortgage lenders conduct a water authority search?
Mike Whitehead

Author: Mike Whitehead - Content Editor

Updated: June 21, 2022

In a nutshell, without a water authority search a mortgage lender won’t be able to release the funds needed to complete the purchase of a property.

Mortgage lenders need to be as certain as they can be that there are no potential issues that could adversely affect a property’s value during the loan term.

They do this by relying on your solicitor to conduct a number of conveyancing searches, the most important of which are:

  • Checkbox Purple Land registry search
  • Checkbox Purple Local authority search
  • Checkbox Purple Environmental search
  • Checkbox Purple Water authority search (also referred to as a drainage and water search)

Depending on the location of the property, lenders will often request a number of other searches be carried out, such as mining, flood risk and transport/HS2 links but those listed above are considered mandatory, and without them, a lender can’t proceed with a mortgage application.

What exactly is a water authority search and why is it important?

A water authority search establishes exactly how the water supply comes into a property and how it goes out.

To be more precise, the search findings will provide answers to the following questions:

  • Checkbox Purple Is the property connected to a mains water supply? If so, who is the supplier?
  • Checkbox Purple Is the property connected to a public drainage system?
  • Checkbox Purple Is the water supply measured (using a meter) or unmeasured (using a rate system)?
  • Checkbox Purple Is the property located close to a water mains terminal or sewage works?
  • Checkbox Purple If not connected to a mains water supply or public drainage system, where does the water supply come from and how is sewage disposed of?

This type of information may seem quite straightforward but it can be very important, especially if you’re buying a property with the aim of conducting major renovation work.

For example, if you’re planning to build an extension to a property and need to alter the existing drainage system you’ll need permission from the water company before you can proceed.

As far as a mortgage provider is concerned, if a water authority search establishes that a property is not connected to a main sewage network, has there been any historical surface flooding as a result of an inadequate drainage system in its place? If so, has this now been appropriately rectified?

If the lender isn’t satisfied by the results of this search, or is concerned about any aspect of it, they may decide not to proceed with the mortgage application.

Types of water authority searches

There are two types of water authority searches available:

  • CON29DW drainage and water search
  • Regulated drainage and water search

Of the two, the CON29DW search is considered more comprehensive, providing answers to 25 standard questions and is compiled by the water companies themselves using their own historical records.  A regulated search provides a lot of the same information a CON29DW does but without any conclusions or input from the water company.

As a result the CON29DW search is usually more expensive than a regulated search, typically costing between £50-£100 and is generally the most popular amongst solicitors and mortgage lenders.

If you’re looking to buy a property it’s important to discuss with your solicitor the results of all the conveyancing searches carried out. This way you can avoid any unexpected results which might affect your chances of a mortgage and/or cost you money further down the line.

FCA disclaimer

*Based on our research, the content contained in this article is accurate as of the most recent time of writing. Lender criteria and policies change regularly so speak to one of the advisors we work with to confirm the most accurate up to date information. The information on the site is not tailored advice to each individual reader, and as such does not constitute financial advice. All advisors working with us are fully qualified to provide mortgage advice and work only for firms who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. They will offer any advice specific to you and your needs.

Some types of buy to let mortgages are not regulated by the FCA. Think carefully before securing other debts against your home. As a mortgage is secured against your home, it may be repossessed if you do not keep up with repayments on your mortgage. Equity released from your home will also be secured against it.

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