Residential Property Update – septic tanks

News Posted: August 5, 2019

Residential Property Update 2019 – Septic Tanks

In early 2018 we produced an update on our website regarding septic tanks (Residential property update July 2018) but since that time things have changed further and so to assist people who own a property with a septic tank, or are thinking of purchasing one, we have summarised the current situation.

From 1 January 2020 septic tanks in England will no longer, under any circumstances be permitted to discharge or drain to surface water. This means that by this that date any septic tanks which are currently permitted to discharge to surface water by an Environmental Permit or Consent to Discharge must be replaced or upgraded. Where such properties are sold before 1 January 2020 responsibility for the replacement or upgrade of the existing treatment system should be addressed as a condition of the sale.

Whilst the Environment Agency have the ability to impose sanctions and carry out enforcement proceedings (both civil and criminal if needs be) against home owners it is worth noting that they do want to work together to rectify the situation and reduce any pollution risks rather than proceed down litigious route.

The main conclusion to understand from this is that on every transaction going forwards where a septic tank is involved, careful and thorough consideration must be given to the current status of the drainage system and when acting for a buyer, thoughts about costs and work involved to bring the system up to current standards must also be at the forefront of every party’s mind.

As at the time of print, National Resources Wales do not have a date by which time septic tanks must be upgraded.

If you wish to discuss any of the above further then please do no hesitate to contact a member of the residential property team on 01743 248545 or email

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