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When we act in the sale or purchase of rural properties not connected to the mains sewer one issue which regularly causes difficulty is the presence of a septic tank.

There are two issues which we commonly encounter: firstly that there is no formal consent for the septic tank and secondly that there is no easement in relation to any soakaway which goes onto someone else’s land.

These problems arise most often in older properties constructed when there was less formality and regulation but to sell a property with a septic tank nowadays these things need to be put in place.

If you have a septic tank and no formal consent you need to make an application to the Water Management Unit of the Environment Agency and pay the appropriate fee. They will carry out an inspection of the system and the process can take several weeks assuming that the system is in satisfactory working order. The sooner that this consent is applied for that better as waiting for the consent can delay the sale.

If the soakaways from the septic tank go across land which you do not own then you need the owner of that land to agree formally to the arrangement by granting an easement. Again this can take some time to put in place especially if the landowner has a mortgage over their land as the lender also has to agree to the easement.

The upshot of this is that if you are considering selling a property with a septic tank you should ensure that these matters are in place before you place it on the market. If you need any further advice in relation to these issues please contact any member of our conveyancing team.