A NATIONAL watchdog is probing the behaviour of some councils after complaints from a Huddersfield firm.
But the Property Search Group's complaint to the Office of Fair Trading about councils allegedly restricting public information being seen is not aimed at Kirklees.
Trinity Street-based PSG conducts property searches for solicitors and conveyancers.
The company, set up in 1997, says some councils deliberately withhold access to information for the personal search sector - but make the information freely available to their own customers.
In the past, councils have done property searches themselves. But now there is increasing competition from the private sector.
The founder of PSG, Julie Hester, 41, a former Huddersfield policewoman, first complained to the Government about the problem three years ago.
She says some councils are operating anti-competitive cartels.
She added: "Many land charge employees at councils resent the emergence of the commercial sector.
"The personal search sector has challenged their monopoly and they simply don't like it.
"In many instances they are deliberately abusing their dominant position. A fair market will not exist while the same department within councils holds and maintains records and conducts its own business," added Ms Hester.
"The system is open for abuse, and, as a result, home buyers are being forced to pay more, simply because professional organisations like PSG are being denied access to view public records," she said.
The investigation should take about six months and could result in the Office of Fair Trading fining some councils if PSG's claims are proved.
A spokesman for the company said they had never had any problems with Kirklees.