Sewers may not be your first consideration when looking for a new home but many rural and semi-rural properties are not connected to mains drainage and rely on a septic system. A septic tank is a key component of this system and your conveyancer will need to raise sufficient enquiries of the seller to ensure the system meets all relevant legal requirements.
What Information are you Entitled to When Buying a House With a Septic Tank?
The searches your conveyancer will carry out and the enquiries they will make as part of the conveyancing process will confirm whether a property has mains drainage. The Property Information Form completed by the seller will also confirm whether the property has a septic tank, including the date of its installation and when it was last serviced.
In addition to this, the seller is legally required to provide you with the following information:
- A description of the treatment system and drainage system
- Where the septic tank is located. This is particularly important where the tank is located on a neighbouring property as your conveyancer can investigate whether there are appropriate rights and obligations in place
- Maintenance and emptying records
- Details of any changes made to the system
- Details of how the system should be maintained and a maintenance manual
Should I get a Home Buyer Drainage Survey?
The condition of a drainage system is fundamental to the wellbeing of a property, and a standard Home Buyer’s Survey won’t usually go beyond a look into any manhole covers. Therefore, you may wish to consider obtaining a Home Buyer Drainage Survey.
Often such surveys will reveal a well-maintained system that should continue to provide many years of use. Sometimes it may reveal some issues that need addressing – it’s much better to know about these before committing to purchasing a property. Either way, a Home Buyer Drainage Survey should give you the reassurance that comes with knowing the exact condition of the property you are purchasing.
Owning a Property with a Septic Tank
Owning a house with a septic tank means:
- You have a responsibility to make sure that your property’s drainage system does not cause pollution or harm to the environment
- You are responsible for ensuring the system is compliant with the General Binding Rules (GBRs). It is important to be aware of these because if you fail to adhere to them you could be fined if your system causes pollution. It is also prudent, if evidence is not forthcoming from the seller, that a competent person attends to review the tank to confirm it does adhere to the GBRs as it can be very costly to remedy any works required to bring a system to the correct standard
- You won’t pay any charges to a sewerage company as you are not connected to a main sewer
- You will need to have your house septic tank emptied regularly (roughly once or twice a year, depending on the size of the tank)
In most cases, a correctly installed well-maintained house septic tank is unlikely to cause any issues. However, it is important to ensure that the right questions are asked before you purchase and that you understand what your responsibilities will be once you have completed on your purchase.
If you are considering buying a house with a septic tank, do not hesitate to contact us for advice, our expert solicitors would be happy to assist you.