Selling a house with a septic tank

In 2022 more than half a million homeowners are not connected to the main sewage system and they have to rely on septic tanks. This is usually more so the case in older properties and rural properties. With competent installation and maintenance property with a septic tank should cause little to no problems at all. However, from January 2022 every homeowner with a septic tank is responsible to follow strict septic tank regulations. You can read the full guidance on the government website.

What is a septic tank?

A septic tank is a very large container that collects all the dirty water from household outlets – showers, kitchen sinks, toilets and all the appliances connected to water like dishwashers or washing machines. Inside bacteria is doing its job to break down the solids and prevent a solid build-up and clogging. That is why it is important to use septic tank friendly detergents as antibacterial products like soaps will inhibit bacteria growth.

Before 2022

Pre-2020 lots of septic tanks were polluting the environment by leaking contaminated water into the ground.

If you’re trying to sell or buy a house with a septic tank that is up to date or make sure your waste system is safe. Often it will mean that a small sewage treatment plant needs to be fitted to follow all the rules and regulations. This way the discharge wastewater will be treated, much cleaner and more environmentally friendly. If your existing system is not upgraded you might be fined by an Environmental Agency.

Latest regulations

Depending on the system used and the area the house is in it will vary from what happens with the clear water. According to relevant regulations, it is now illegal to discharge wastewater into a water course but it can be safely released into a drainage field. That could only be possible if the property is not in a groundwater source protection zone (meaning close to a source of drinking water). You can check it on this map.

Any potential buyers should ask for the sewage system details. When buying a house with a septic tank we always recommend ordering a survey and in this case, it would be a drainage survey. Depending on the inspector’s findings – if the sewage systems work properly, that’s great and gives you peace of mind and if it is not complying with the governmental advice it will give you negotiating power. Whether you decide to pull out of the sale or ask the seller to upgrade the system is completely up to you.

How much does it cost to upgrade the system?

The cost will vary dramatically depending on the system you already have, the size of the house, the location of your property and the material being used. For reference – installing a new septic tank may cost around £5000 including labour. To install a sewage treatment plant could cost up to £9000 according to checkatrade.com

So you love the house but the idea of a septic tank scares you? Do not panic! Ask these questions instead:

  1. What kind of septic system is it?
  2. How old is the septic tank system?
  3. Where is it located?
  4. When was it emptied last?
  5. How often does it require emptying?
  6. Proof of maintenance checks.
  7. Has the homeowner registered the septic tank with Environmental Agency?

Selling a house with a septic tank

What is important to remember is that your septic tank is non-compliant with the new rules it may become tricky to sell your house. Fear not, the house sale is still possible but we would consider alternative options. One of them would be selling a property to a professional cash buyer such as Speed Property Buyers. We have plenty of experience in buying so-called ‘problematic properties’. Give us a call today on 01903 331 599 our friendly team will guide you through the process and on top of that we take care of all the necessary legal paperwork.

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