Agents with properties to sell in rural areas are being urged to check for septic tanks before marketing commences.
Home owners with septic tanks that discharge into any kind of water course, including ditches, must legally replace or upgrade these systems either when they sell their property or by January 1 – whichever is the sooner.
The Environment Agency has a new code of practice.
It means that septic tanks which discharge into watercourses will either have to be replaced by a sewage treatment plant with full BS EN 12566-3 certification and which produces non-polluting effluent; or the discharge must be stopped up and diverted to a drain field designed and constructed to British Standard 6297 2007.
David Coulson, senior surveyor with County Durham land agents Vickers & Barrass, says that 60% of people with septic tanks will need to change their sewage systems.
He said that anyone planning to sell their property before January 1 should replace their septic tank or have an agreement in place with the buyers.
He said failure to act could result in a sale being delayed or falling through.
He said that there are already situations where the septic tank issue is only discovered when buyers and sellers are ready to exchange contracts.