What issues to consider when Selling a Property serviced by a Septic Tank

Ben Wall

If you’re selling a property serviced by a septic tank you must have a consent to discharge in place

Do you have a septic tank? Do you have a consent to discharge in respect of the septic tank? If you are planning to sell your home and your answer to the first question is yes and your answer to the second is no or you are unsure then you need to find out quickly as it unlikely you will find someone to buy your property without a consent being in place.

A discharge consent is required if your home is not connected to the main public sewer. If you have an Emptying Agreement with NI Water in respect of the septic tank, contrary to some misconceptions, you will still require a consent to discharge. A consent to discharge waste from a single domestic dwelling is granted by the Department of Agricultural, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) following an application made using the WO1 form. Recommendations may be made by the local council’s Environment Health (Rivers) Officer.

How to find out if you have a consent to discharge

If you are unsure whether there is a consent to discharge in place first search the Domestic Consents Public Register. All domestic consents and maps for consents granted from 1992 to present are available to download from DAERA’s website. Even if you cannot find your consent on their online site, contact them directly as historically sometimes the consents were applied for and granted with an address that does not reflect the current postal address.

If you receive confirmation that the use of your septic tank is not covered by a consent then the consequences are potentially very serious. If you discharge any trade or sewage effluent without consent, or breach any condition of a discharge consent, you can get be fined up to £20,000 or be imprisoned for up to 3 months. Therefore you will want to make the application as soon as possible.

How to apply for a consent to discharge

The DAERA website indicates that it can take up to four months for the application to be processed. If you already have a prospective buyer of the property this delay could be enough to cause the proposed sale to fall through. The good news is we can provide you with access to wastewater treatment solutions professionals who can look after the whole application process, from start to finish. Not only will this remove the stress of dealing with it yourself it, will really speed up the process from taking a few months to potentially taking a few weeks. This will allow you to proceed with the sale of your property.

Once the sale of the property has gone through the new owner submits a WO4 form to have the consent reissued in his or her name.

If you would like advice in relation to any issue regarding consents to discharge, or the sale of a property, please give us a call on 02891 817715 or contact our property team by email at property@boydricesolicitors.com.