Hunter's Solicitors


You?ve found your perfect home out in the country: it?s peaceful; it?s amongst fields; it?s got off-mains drainage ? Wait, what?


The majority of UK homes are linked into the main drains. Your shower, your sinks, your washing-machine and even your toilets all drain into a nearby sewer, and you pay your local water company for the privilege. But what if your potential dream home isn?t anywhere near a sewer? The answer is typically going to be a septic tank, a cesspit or a sewage treatment plant. Worse still, if it?s a cesspit, it?s not even going anywhere ? it?s just going to be a holding tank.

So what does all this involve?

If you?re making an offer on a house that doesn?t have the luxury (and let?s face it, it is a luxury when you look at it properly) of mains drainage, it does mean you won?t get bills from the water company. Unfortunately you?re likely to be getting bills from somewhere else, because if you buy that house you will have the legal responsibility of ensuring that your system, whatever it is, doesn?t harm the environment and if you don?t follow the rules, and that leads to pollution, you could be fined (or worse). One of the problems is that these systems, like all drainage, is mostly out of sight, so it can be hard to know whether there are likely to be problems.

So what do you need to watch out for?

To begin with, tanks must be emptied regularly, typically this would be perhaps once a year for septic tanks and treatment plants, but it could be as often as eight times a year for a cesspit. Treatment plants also have to be serviced annually.

If you?ve not been put off so far, and that country cottage is still looking charming, be aware that a standard building survey might well not cover the drainage sufficiently for your purposes. You will probably need a specialist survey, at extra cost.

If you?re instructing a solicitor on the purchase they should go into every aspect of it, on your behalf. When was the tank last emptied? What does it usually cost? Is the tank shared with any other property? What condition is the tank in? There are lots of questions it?s worth asking, and Hunter?s Solicitors would be happy to help on this, or any other, aspect of home purchase. Just give us a call, and we?ll take it from there.