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Countrywide warns sellers: septic tanks are a ticking timebomb

Countrywide’s upmarket brand Hamptons International is urging all owners of homes with septic tanks to prepare for new regulations that kick in at New Year.

The regs require all homes which are not connected to a mains sewage network to review, upgrade or replace their non-mains system by January 1 - so those preparing to sell or with their properties already on the market without a buyer so far will have to act imminently.

The General Binding Rules for small sewage discharges or SSDs have been put in place to protect England’s river and streams - formally referred to as surface water resources - from pollution caused by septic tanks and other small-scale sewage treatment plants. 


Under the new regulations, it is no longer permissible to discharge low quality effluent from septic tanks directly into ditches, streams or other watercourses. 

Instead, homeowners have the option of replacing or upgrading systems to incorporate a drainage field. This is also known as an infiltration system and means the effluent can seep into the ground instead for further treatment by soil bacteria.

“The changing legislation cannot be ignored for those who are not connected to a mains drain, and the responsibility lies with owners to understand their private drainage system and therefore any changes they may need to make to comply” warns Andrew Marshall, regional director of Hamptons International. 

“New rules came into effect in 2015, when 2020 felt like a long time away; but it is now just weeks away. We are speaking to a number of homeowners across the country who are looking at selling but have not acted on this new legislation, some of whom are surprised by the breadth of work required” he adds.

“Ignoring it will not make it go away. Irrespective of whether you are looking at selling or not, this is an issue that needs to be addressed to abide by the new regulations.”

For those looking at selling in the near future, Hamptons International is calling homeowners to address this as soon as possible as to not hinder or delay a sale, post 2020, sellers will also face the substantial cost of doing the works ahead of any sale.


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