How to register
In order to register your firm with the PCCB, you need to complete our online registration process. Please have the required documentation with you when completing your registration.
Groups and Franchises
If you are a group with a number of subsidiaries or brands which want to subscribe under the Code or you are a franchisor, please contact the PCCB before registration or renewal.
- Code Compliance Officer (CCO) and Senior Executive Officer (SEO) details
- Professional Indemnity (PI) Insurance details
- Company search statistics including number of staff employed and annual quantities produced
Dependent on the nature of their business, a personal search firm may register with the PCCB as a subscriber to the Search Code as a Compiler, Retailer or both. A search compiler is defined as a firm that compiles personal searches itself. A search retailer is defined as a firm that sells or resells personal searches irrespective of whether they have been compiled by themselves or a third party. However, if the searches have been sourced from a search firm not registered with the PCCB then all the obligations and responsibilities under the Search Code rest with the seller.
The Registration Procedure
Once you have completed your online application you will need to send the required documents and registration fee to the PCCB. The required documents are listed below.
Upon receipt, PCCB Inspectors will review the materials submitted and provide a short report via e-mail with recommendations for any actions needed to secure satisfactory compliance with the Code. If you have any queries on the report you can contact the inspector to discuss these. You will need to report back to the Inspector via e-mail on actions taken to implement the recommendations, together with any supporting evidence requested. The Inspector will review your report back and may seek further actions as necessary. Upon satisfactory completion of this process, the Inspector will then advise the PCCB accordingly so that the registration application can proceed. Firms are advised that this process may take some weeks to conclude depending on the quality of the application and how quickly any required documents are exchanged. PCCB reserves the right to cancel the application if a firm fails to conclude the pre-registration checking process within three months.
Please also note that your registration fee will be banked upon initial receipt, but the actual period of registration will commence only once PCCB has issued confirmation of registration. This confirmation will be issued only when PCCB is satisfied that all the documents/sample products are in order. Registration will then run for 12 months from the date of confirmation of registration (ie: not from the date the registration fee was banked). Please note that no refund will be payable should a firm withdraw its registration application after the point that PCCB has confirmed acceptance of the application and commenced document/sample product checking. PCCB registration includes affiliate membership of the Council of Property Search Organisations (CoPSO).
The documents required prior to registration FROM ALL SEARCH FIRMS are:
1. Evidence of Professional Indemnity insurance cover (from the schedule and/or the policy)
The Inspector will check:
a. Is the insurance current?
b. If payments are made monthly, are they up-to-date?
c. Does it specifically cover the provision of search services?
d. Is the insurance for at least £2 million?
e. Is the insurance specifically for any one claim?
f. Does the schedule show the firm’s full name and any relevant trading names?
g. Does the schedule show the firm’s PCCB registration address?
h. Is the name and full address of the firm’s insurer/broker known?
i. Does the policy have a reference number?
2. Details of any claims made on your insurance policy
3. Evidence regarding 'run-off' insurance cover
An undertaking that should the firm cease to trade for any reason it will, prior to that event, execute run-off insurance cover for its past search products and services. The undertaking should be accompanied by evidence (for example, provision in the wording of the firm’s PI policy, or confirmation from the firm’s PI insurer or broker) that run-off cover would be available to the firm should it cease to trade.
4. Evidence of specialist search insurance
a. evidence that the firm’s PI policy includes cover for errors and omissions in local authority data and records, and run-off cover for a minimum of 6 years; or
b. evidence of separate insurance cover provided on a per search basis (specialist search insurance) for the firm’s personal search products which report on information held by local authorities. As a minimum this insurance must provide cover of £2 million (any one claim) for errors and omissions in local authority data and records.
5. The firm’s complaints procedures and handling arrangements
The Inspector will check:
a. Does the firm have a complaints procedure which is aligned with the Code?
b. Is the procedure included in the firm’s products?
c. Has the firm provided a satisfactory template 'final response' letter for use in handling complaints?
d. Has the firm provided a satisfactory draft 'Consumer Information page' to be included in its products (see Annex E to the Registration Rules)
If the firm has not already prepared any one or more of these documents, the Inspector will provide copies of PCCB Guidance Notes and templates, during the checking process, to assist the firm in doing so.
6. If the firm compiles searches (rather than just retails searches compiled by third party firms), two samples of each type of search (eg personal local authority search, personal drainage & water search, environmental / flood search) provided within the last month. Sample personal local authority searches should be searches which:
a. the firm has compiled entirely itself (i.e. have not been purchased from other search firms);
b. have involved some inspection of records (ie the answers have not been purchased entirely from the council);
c. have been carried out in different council areas (unless the firm operates in only one council's area).
For each personal local authority search provided the firm must also:
a. provide a copy of any order submitted to the Council and any receipts received for payments made to the Council for search answers
b. complete a form (which will be provided by the Inspector) to indicate the data sources used to answer each CON29 question in each Personal search.
The Inspector will check:
a. Are the sample searches complete and accurate (so far as can be ascertained) and do they comply with the law and relevant guidance?
b. Do the searches contain clear information on the sources used in obtaining the answers?
c. Does the firm include in its searches details of run-off insurance cover for searches, within either its PI insurance policy or a separate specialist search policy?
Note: If a firm is unable to provide all the sample searches required (e.g. because it has yet to start trading), the firm should explain the situation and discuss alternative arrangements with the Inspector.
7. Evidence that the firm has purchased an appropriate licence for using Ordnance Survey and/or other mapping in relation to its search products and services.
It is a requirement that all firms registered with PCCB must have an Ordnance Survey Paper Map Copying Licence.
8. The firm’s terms & conditions of business.
The Inspector will check that these are clear, fair, reasonable and not misleading.
9. Other matters
The Inspector will check whether there are any other matters of serious concern arising from the application and/or any other sources (e.g. in relation to the firm’s web site, its trading identities, any registration with Companies House, or any other matters).
Groups and Franchises
If you are a group with a number of subsidiaries or brands which want to subscribe under the Code or you are a franchisor, please contact the PCCB before registration or renewal. Please also note that if you are applying to register as a franchisee, the PCCB and the main franchise operations have a policy that inspection reports (including pre-registration reports) are shared with the franchisor as well as the franchisee. This is in the interests of securing consistency among franchisees and making the franchisor aware at an early stage of any changes which may be required to national systems, processes, or templates.
Address for Documents
The documents should be uploaded on to the PCCB web site as part of the application process. Alternatively, electronic copies may be sent direct to the PCCB Inspector. The Inspector will contact you once you have completed the on line application.
Address for Registration Fee
Property Codes Compliance Board
c/o The Old Rectory,