Call me back, please

Is It Impossible To Sell a House With Septic Tank?

Property Saviour » Problematic Properties » Is It Impossible To Sell a House With Septic Tank?

It is possible to sell a house with a septic tank if you are aware of Septic tank regulations that came into force in 2015 and your septic tank is compliant.  If your septic tank system is not compliant, we can still help.

Septic tanks are also known as waste treatment tanks. In this article, we will cover whether to sell a property without upgrading a septic tank.


Table of Contents

How does a septic tank work?

Rural properties that do not have a connection to the main public sewer system require a septic tank.  As a septic tank system requires a large area, it is common for part of your septic tank to be under a neighbouring property, particularly if you have a small garden.  Sadly, this can lead to disputes when it comes to any repairs or maintenance issues of a shared septic tank.

Septic tanks can be either single or multi-chambered and utilise gravity to separate the solid waste from liquid waste that flows into it from your property.

Oil and grease, along with lighter solids, float the surface and form a ‘scum’ layer, whereas the heavy solids sink to the bottom of the tank, where they are partially broken and digested by aerobic bacteria.  This solid part is called a ‘sludge layer’.  Finally, the remaining liquid suspended between these two layers flows out of the tank into a second settlement chamber (if there is one) and then into either a soakaway or a drainage field.

Septic tanks require regular emptying regularly, which, depending on usage and efficiency, could be once every three months or every six months.  This is an additional cost that can put off most buyers.

Selling a house with septic tank and the new regulations

Before putting your house up for sale, you must check if your septic tank complies with General Binding Rules: small sewage discharge to surface water.  These new rules mean that your septic tank must not discharge wastewater into a water course.  Instead, you should use a soakaway or a drainage field or invest in a sewage treatment plan.

If you are selling a home with a septic tank that discharges into a watercourse, your buyer will insist that you pay for an upgrade to make your septic tank compliant.  This could be a huge expense on your part without a guaranteed sale.

Equally, your failure to meet with General Binding Rules can lead to enforcement action being taken, which could result in a substantial fine and or prison.

Waste treatment tank or septic tank
A faulty, outdated, or non-compliant septic tank can dramatically reduce the interest in your home and, therefore, make it difficult to sell. 

What information should you disclose to your buyer?

It is your legal responsibility to be honest and truthful under Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations, otherwise known as CPRs.  If you deliberately hide information or your failure to disclose a material fact that could have resulted in a buyer not buying a property, then you could be sued.

It is your responsibility to inform your buyer of the presence of a septic tank and provide a detailed specification, including:

  • Where is the septic tank located?
  • A description of the septic tank and its drainage system
  • Any changes or repairs made to the system
  • Details of regular maintenance
  • Does it have any problems?
  • The age of the system
  • When was it last emptied?

Preparation is key, so prior to selling, keep a record of all documentation relating to repairs or maintenance carried out to give your prospective buyer confidence.

Homebuyer’s drainage survey

A faulty septic tank can be very expensive to replace or repair.  Your buyer is likely to get a homebuyer’s drainage survey, which isn’t covered as part of a standard building survey.  This checks the condition of your septic tank by emptying it to give the surveyor a clear view. It will also identify any issues, such as whether it meets current regulations, and identify any problems or damage.

A faulty, outdated, or non-compliant septic tank can dramatically reduce the interest in your home and, therefore, make it difficult to sell.  Could selling to a ‘We Buy Any House’ company like Property Saviour be the solution?

Type of sewage system on your property

When selling your house, it’s important to inform the buyer about the type of sewage system you have. There are three main types: 

  1. cesspits or cesspools,
  2. sewage treatment plants
  3. and septic tanks.

Cesspits and cesspools are storage systems that collect wastewater. Sewage treatment plants clean the waste before releasing it. Septic tanks are popular for rural properties as they collect and store untreated effluent for transport to a treatment plant.

Replacing a septic tank is expensive
Replacing a septic tank can be very expensive, and without replacing it you can't sell a home.

What Happens if the Septic Tank Needs Repairing?

If you’re looking to sell your house and you discover that your septic tank needs repairs, it’s best to address the issue before selling. While it’s not legally required, properties with functioning private drainage systems are more attractive to potential buyers.

So if your septic tank is not up to standard, damaged, or malfunctioning, it’s advisable to sell the property as is.  But the property won’t be mortgageable meaning that you will need to sell to a cash buyer.

If the repairs are extensive and you don’t have the funds, it may be more cost-effective to negotiate a lower price with the buyer to cover the necessary repairs. Some buyers may find this option appealing as it allows them to have control over the work and ensure all repairs are done to their satisfaction.

Should you sell to a cash buyer?

A cash buyer will view a problematic property and make an offer.

There are several risks that Property Saviour will take on, including:

Enforcement action or prosecution by Local Authority or Environment Agency. 

This could mean a substantial fine or prison.  The enforcement action applies to the property, and therefore, the new owner will immediately become liable.  This is not an insurable risk, and if replacement takes longer than planned, the risk is greater as time goes on.  The Law came into effect in 2015, and it has been eight years since.

Installing a new septic tank

We have been quoted £30,000 as a ballpark figure, including VAT, for a typical 3-bed semi-detached property.  It could be much higher depending on the findings of the drainage surveyor. 

Often, if your property has a shared septic tank with neighbouring properties, then all neighbours must agree to use a particular supplier, accept their quotation, and agree on the location of the septic tank, particularly if part of the current septic tank is under the boundary of another property, arrange installation, approve installation is successful and finally pay the installer. 

This is far easier than done as, from experience, it can lead to disputes or disagreements, resulting in frustrating delays.

Risk of litigation and disputes with neighbours

Even if one opts for a dedicated septic tank, this could alienate the neighbours, who might not be too happy as their share will now be larger towards a shared septic tank system.  This can result in expensive litigation covered by their home insurance provider.  Most owner-occupiers have a legal expense cover.

Until this issue is resolved, the property is unmortgageable.

Sell A Home With Septic Tank

Here’s why sellers trust us:

auction hammer

Property Saviour Price Promise

  • The price we’ll offer is the price that you will receive with no hidden deductions.
  • Be careful with ‘cash buyers’ who require a valuation needed for a mortgage or bridging loan.
  • These valuations or surveys result in delays and price reductions later on.
  • We are cash buyers.  There are no surveys.
  • We always provide proof of funds with every formal offer issued.

We'll Pay £1,500 Towards Your Legal Fees

  • No long exclusivity agreement to sign because we are the buyers.
  • You are welcome to use your own solicitor. 
  • If you don’t have one, we can ask our solicitors for recommendations.
  • We share our solicitor’s details and issue a Memorandum of Sale. 

Sell With Certainty & Speed

  • Our approach is transparent and ethical, which is why sellers trust us.
  • 100% Discretion guaranteed. 
  • If you have another buyer, you can put us in a contracts race to see who completes first.
  • Complete in 10 days or at a timescale that works for you.  You are in control.

Our cash offer will be made subject to a survey and a viewing, which we will pay for.  There are no deductions, estate agent fees or solicitors fees. We will pay £1,500 towards your legal costs, too.  The sale will be completed within 2-3 weeks, depending on how quickly your solicitor can send contracts to our solicitors.

The benefit of you accepting this offer is that you get to walk away and let us deal with the risks and joys of dealing with a septic tank replacement. 

If you are ready to make a fresh start, make an enquiry to see how we can help.  All calls are 100% confidential, and it costs nothing to find out more.

Sell with certainty & speed

Share This Article:

Related Articles

Skip to content