• When deciding whether to purchase a property without mains drainage, there are several things to consider before making the final decision. From assessing the type of private sewage system in place to understanding regulatory compliance and maintenance responsibilities, buyers must navigate unique aspects to ensure a well-informed investment. This article explores key factors such as system functionality, environmental impact, legal adherence and long term maintenance obligations to aid potential buyers with essential insights for navigating the intricacies of properties relying on alternative drainage solutions.

    What is a septic tank?

    A septic tank is an underground system that collects, treats and separates waste. This type of system is common in rural properties. It is important that the relevant factors are considered by the parties in the transaction so that the transaction can proceed without issue.

    Key considerations when buying a house with a septic tank

    1. Determine the age of the system: this is important as an older system may require more frequent maintenance and may need to be upgraded.

    2. Consider the General Binding Rules 2015: the discharge must comply with the General Binding Rules 2015. We recommend reading the rules and technical requirements which are designed to protect the environment and public health.

    3. Maintenance history: we would recommend requesting maintenance records of the private drainage system to understand the frequency and nature of past maintenance and to assess condition.

    4. System inspection and condition: related to maintenance, we would recommend having a professional inspection of the system. The inspector will also be able to assess the capacity of the system to ensure this is sufficient for the needs of the property and advise on any future maintenance considerations. Additionally, they will be able to comment on compliance with the General Binding Rules and whether the system may need an upgrade to comply.

    5. Upkeep and (shared?) responsibilities: often the system or parts of that system are upon neighbouring land. The system may also be shared with neighbouring properties. As such it is important to clarify that appropriate rights exist for the system’s use and to clarify how any maintenance is arranged and who bears the costs.

    6. Legal and regulatory compliance: compliance with planning and building regulation requirements should be checked. Also any guarantees or warranties related to the system should be requested from or provided by the seller.

    How a private drainage system may affect the transaction

    If the system has been regularly serviced, in a good working order, complies with the General Binding Rules and appropriate rights and obligations exist for it’s use and maintenance, it is unlikely that it will affect the transaction.

    However if the results of the survey do highlight any issues with the system, or is not compliant with the General Binding Rules, it will be important to discuss this to try to reach an agreement as soon as possible. Repairs and maintenance for private drainage systems are often costly so this may form part of the negotiations. As mentioned above, we always recommend a thorough private drainage survey as soon as possible so that any issues are revealed and matters can be discussed and agreed as soon as possible.

    Further guidance on buying a property with a septic tank

    Our solicitors have extensive experience of rural properties including handling transactions involving septic tanks or complex drainage and if instructed, will be with you all the way to ensure a smooth transaction. If you wish to obtain a free no obligation quote use our simple online conveyancing quote tool (for properties under £1million) or book an online appointment with one of our team (for properties over £1million).

    This content is correct at time of publication

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