Septic date looming

21st March 2011

A leading residential property lawyer is warning householders with a septic tank to get up to speed with new rules and regulations issued by the Environment Agency.

David Morgan says that property owners with a septic tank need to be aware that the regulations on domestic septic tanks changed in 2010, with owners of existing systems having until January 1, 2012 to register them with the Environment Agency.  New systems will also be subject to registration and must be constructed and installed in accordance with current British Standards.  

David explains: "If you already have a 'Consent to Discharge' then you do not need to register and the Environment Agency will automatically register the septic tank with exempt status. If it does not qualify for exempt status then the consent will convert into an Environmental Permit.  The exempt status or permit could be lost if the conditions of registration are not kept.  The conditions principally deal with proper maintenance of the system."

The new rules are of particular importance if you are selling or buying a property with a septic tank. David said: "The new regime means that when you sell the property it is not necessary to notify the Environment Agency of the change of ownership provided the septic tank is operated and maintained properly.  However, you must give written details to the new owner about the discharge and the conditions that must be met. Also, you must give the new owner any maintenance records."

Application for registration is relatively straightforward.  It is best to do it online as online applications are processed more quickly.  It is only necessary to register once.  Registration is generally free but, if registration can't be accepted, then it will be necessary to apply for a permit for which there is a charge. 

David concludes: "If you are about to buy a property with a septic tank then you should check that, either the septic tank has already been registered, or get the current owner to register it with exempt status (or get a permit) before exchange of contracts and completion."


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