Information you are legally required to share about your private sewage system when selling your house
If you are selling your home and it has a private sewage system, there is information that you are legally required to pass onto the new owner. Sellers are legally obligated to inform buyers in writing whether or not the property is served by a septic tank, treatment plant or cesspit where they’re located, and what maintenance is required.
Information you need to know.
As someone who is selling a property with a private drainage system, there is information you need to know so that you can provide answers to the following questions:
- What type of private drainage system do you have, a septic tank, sewage treatment plant, or cesspit?
- Is the system registered?
- Where are the discharge points?
- Where is the private sewage system located?
- What is the system capacity?
- How old is the system?
- When was it last maintained?
- Are there any records of maintenance?
- Are there any third-party land easements or wayleaves?
- Are there any rights of access?
- Is it shared, and what is your expected contribution?
Provide all information in writing
If you’re selling your property, you must tell the new owner or operator (person in charge of the sewage system) that a sewage discharge is in place. This must be done in writing and include the following information:
- Details of any changes made to the system.
- A full description of the drainage system.
- The location of the system and the discharge point.
- Details and costs of maintenance, in addition to any maintenance manuals you may have.
- Records of any maintenance that has been carried out on the system.
For more information on your responsibilities, you can read Gov’s section on the general binding rules and responsibilities when selling your house.
Be clear about the type of sewage system you have
What many people forget to mention is what type of private drainage system they have. There are three main types of private sewage systems, and they all work differently. So, be as clear with potential buyers as possible about the type of sewage system you have so the buyer knows what they’re dealing with.
Cesspits or Cesspools: these are simply storage systems that collect the wastewater from your property and store it for emptying. Cesspits and cesspools are more commonly found in older properties.
Sewage Treatment Plants: these systems clean the waste that is drained from your property so that it can be safely released back into a suitable drainage field or to surface water.
Septic Tanks: in a septic tank, the solids sink to the bottom of the first part of the system called the holding tank, and the liquid flows to the second compartment or chamber for discharge into drainage fields.
Ensure your private sewage system meets the general binding rules
As long as you own the property, you are required to ensure that the sewage system meets all legal requirements. These are also referred to as the general binding rules and help ensure your private sewage system functions safely and effectively.
On January 1st 2020, new rules were being enforced to ensure that all private sewage systems are correctly disposing of waste, helping reduce any risks to your health or risks of pollution. It is your responsibility to ensure your septic tank meets the general binding rules and is not draining into a freshwater source.
Avoid any problems by reporting the private sewage system condition.
If you have sellers interested in your home, aim to avoid any problems by being upfront with them about your private sewage system's condition. If you’ve been properly maintaining your private sewage system, being honest about its condition shouldn’t be a problem. So, it is best to avoid any problems by being as accurate as possible.
What if the private sewage system needs repairing?
If you’re in the process of selling your home and your private sewage system needs repairing, it is worth fixing the problem. As experts in private drainage systems, we know that an efficient and functional private drainage system is far more appealing to potential buyers than a damaged one. If you know that your private sewage system isn’t up to standard and is damaged, not functioning properly, or in an unsafe condition, we would strongly recommend you call in the professionals to fix everything before selling.
If the repairs needed are extensive, it may be more cost-efficient to negotiate with the buyer on the amount, perhaps discounting the property cost to cover repairs. For some buyers, this option may be more attractive as they will control the work, ensuring all repairs are done properly (it’s also far more time-efficient).
Contact ASL for more information.
Hopefully, this information has been helpful to you. However, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call us. The ASL Limited team are experts in private drainage systems and would be more than happy to help.