Selling a property with a package treatment plant or septic tank

Properties with ‘Private Drainage’

A property with what is generally referred to by Estate Agents as ‘Private Drainage’ can sometimes be a bit off-putting to a prospective buyer.

There are, however, legal requirements which require the seller (the current operator) to inform potential buyers that there is a off-grid sewage discharge is in place. These protect both the buyer and seller.

Private drainage will generally be either a cesspool, septic tank or a package sewage treatment plant – for more information check this link..


Legal Requirements

The General Binding Rules for small sewage discharge state that the new owner should be informed of the following in writing:

  • A description of the treatment plant and drainage system
  • The location of the main parts of the treatment plant, drainage system and discharge point (Note – If a Septic Tank discharges to a watercourse, under the 2020 regulations, this must be changed – Link to post)
  • Details of any changes made to the treatment plant and drainage system
  • Details of how the treatment plant and septic tank should be maintained (and the maintenance manual which should be readily available on site)
  • Maintenance records if you have them
  • Any consent to discharge documents, letters from the EA permitting discharge.

Other information, such as receipts showing details of maintenance, emptying, volumes removed, dates of desludging are also important to be able to give to a buyer – this will give an indication of ongoing running costs.

Is the plant working correctly?

An increasingly important part of this handover documentation is to determine whether the sewage system is performing as expected and within the consent to discharge limits or within permissible limits (i.e. it is not polluting!). This is particularly relevant to sewage treatment plants, but can also be applied to discharges from septic tanks (lower levels of solids in the effluent will prevent silting up of drainage fields, an expensive issue to rectify).

Sampling and Testing of the final effluent

The Tank Sampling Company provides a sampling and testing service either direct to the seller or through estate agents. We attend site and sample the final effluent from the plant. The effluent is analysed in a laboratory and will indicate how the treatment of the effluent compares against the given limits. This either confirms that the plant is operating well or whether remedial work is required prior to the sale completion, giving peace of mind to the buyer – with no surprises later on…

For further information, please contact us…