Selling your home is often an exciting, if complicated, time and can be fraught with issues causing stress. Having an unconventional waste disposal system can be one of these issues if not dealt with correctly. In order to avoid any problems, there are certain things you need to do by law and other things that are just good practice to ensure it all goes as smoothly as possible.

The main barrier to sale you will face when you have a septic tank in situ is the fact that it mostly sits underground. Therefore it is difficult to inspect. So any supporting documentation you have to show the state of it and any maintenance conducted will be beneficial.

Call us for sewage treatment advice

What are your responsibilities when selling a property with a septic tank?

There is a law in place known as General Binding Rules for Small Sewage Discharge, which must be adhered to. The rules mandate you must:

Advise the prospective buyer of the drainage system in place  

If you are selling a property with an off mains drainage system, you must tell the potential new owner about the sewage discharge system in place in writing. In this document, you must include:

  • A full description of the drainage and waste disposal systems in place
  • Where the system is located and in particular the main elements of it, the drainage system and where the waste is discharged to
  • Information regarding any changes that have been made to the system
  • Information regarding how the system should be maintained (include any manuals you have regarding its maintenance too)
  • Any records you have regarding the maintenance and upkeep of the system

Septic tanks and sewage treatment plants will have required emptying throughout their lifespan. It would always be wise to keep the documentation about this. It’s not a legal requirement to provide this information but would help give confidence to any buyer. It would also be useful to provide the name of the company you have used for emptying and maintenance.

Sewage treatment plants necessitate a power source for the air pump and this would have required servicing too. Again, keeping all records of this will give the buyer peace of mind that everything has been kept in good working order and they won’t have a nasty (and expensive) surprise when they move in.

Ensure your septic tank or sewage treatment plant complies with new legislation

As of 1st January 2020, the law regarding waste discharge changed and it is not longer legal to pass wastewater into a watercourse. Any system you have has to comply with this or you are in breach of the Environment Agency’s laws; your system must be updated to suit this. The homeowner should take responsibility to ensure this happens before the sale.

If your septic tank does discharge directly into a watercourse you have two options:

  1. Install a drainage field to allow the water to percolate safely into the ground
  2. Replace the septic tank with a sewage treatment plant (which will also require the installation of a drainage field)

Septic Tank Surveys For Selling Your Home

We’ve looked at the law and what you must comply with, but there are other things which are advisable to do in order to ensure your sale goes as smoothly as possible. The main issues with a waste disposal system of this type is the fact it is situated underground. Therefore they are not easily visible/accessible for checking. A typical survey conducted on behalf of a buyer will only take a cursory look at the system and it is likely they will recommend a specialist survey be conducted.

This can cause issues as there will of course be an additional cost incurred by the buyer. It can also cause delays if a surveyor isn’t available in a timely manner. You could pre-empt all this in an effort to prevent it by having a septic tank or sewage treatment plant survey done in advance of selling your home. As a result of one, you will know the true state of your system and whether it needs repair or replacement and as such can have an honest conversation with the buyers. They will be fully appraised of everything regarding the waste disposal system thus limiting the impact of any issues or findings that may arise once they start looking into it themselves. Proseptic are well-equipped to carry out such surveys.

Your survey should give a report detailing the following information:

  • What type of system is in place
  • Where the system is situated and where it drains
  • A review of the overall condition of the system including:
    • The condition of the tank and structure
    • The condition of all the pipework
  • Confirmation that the system complies with current regulations and if not, how to resolve this
  • Advice on what maintenance or repair work is required

Your tank should be emptied in order to conduct the survey as this will enable the engineer to see if any water returns to the tank. If it does, this could be a sign of bigger issues which will need addressing.

In summary, it is always advisable to properly maintain your waste disposal system and keep the supporting documentation. There are certain laws to comply with including the newest regulations which went live on 1st January 2020 so ensure you are up to date. And if you really want to get ahead of the selling game, have a survey conducted to ensure you know exactly what state everything is in and you can demonstrate it to the buyer.

For any questions regarding the septic tank at your home, call Proseptic today.