Property certificates form part of the legal searches that solicitors have to undertake on behalf of their clients who are buying or selling property. A standard application form, adopted province wide, is sent to the local authority where the property is located and the Council answers 24 standard questions, agreed between the Law Society, The Council of Mortgage Lenders and the Northern Ireland Local Government Association.
The questions cover such areas as Building Regulations, Licensing, Environmental Health, Postal Numbering as well as other issues which might have a bearing on the sale of the property. The standard Northern Ireland fee for a property certificate is £60 which covers a search period of ten years back from the date of the application, the relevant time period as recommended by the Law Society, but for a supplemental fee a longer search period can be carried out. The number of property certificates dealt with each year depends on amount of activity in the property market.
Property Certificates are administered by the Building Control service of Armagh City and District Council.
The Building Control Department answers the questions relating to Building Control issues and distributes the certificate electronically around other departments to answer questions specific to them.
Once all replies have been received the answers are merged into a single official property certificate reply and returned to the requesting solicitors.
The Building Control Departments stated target is to return certificates within 10 working days from date of receipt, in practice average response rates rarely exceeds 4 working days.
There maybe other occasions where specific queries arise regarding historic applications. Armagh City and District Council can help facilitate these requires through property searches. The Council hold application dating back to 1973.