Brits face £100,000 fine over little-known rule change when buying a home – don’t get caught out | The Sun
HOMEOWNERS tempted by a move to the country have been warned that they could be landed with a £100,000 fine over little known rule change.
In January 2015, a new government regulation came into force that changed the rules on septic tanks.
The new rules looked at the way in which waste was discharged, the state of their repair and their size.
The tanks, which store household waste underground, are designed to separate solids from liquids. When the liquid waste is treated it is released into the ground.
There are said to be over 500,00 homes with septic tanks in the UK. The majority of these properties are in Devon, North Yorkshire, Cornwall, Somerset, Shropshire and Cumbria.
A section of the guidance released by the Environment Agency in 2015 reads: "If your discharge causes pollution you may be committing an offence.
"The Environment Agency will give you advice to help you fix the problem.
"If your discharge continues to cause pollution the Environment Agency may take enforcement action against you."
Owners with septic tanks on their properties were given until January 2020 to upgrade their tanks to ensure they met with the new rules.
But many owners might be unaware of the rules regarding tanks that might be at the bottom of the garden or on land out of view.
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People who are in the process of buying a property with a septic tank many now wish to negotiate on the property value if the tank is not yet compliant.
Law firm Been Let Down has seen a 112% rise in septic tank negligence claim enquiries, and estimated damages range from between £10,000-£50,000 per case.
Compensation isaffected by the level of financial loss experienced by the claimant.
Tony Hill, Head of Professional Negligence at Been Let Down, said: “In January 2015, a new government regulation came into force that relates to septic tanks; the way they discharge waste, their state of repair and the suitability of their size.
“Applicable homeowners were given until January 2020 to upgrade their tanks to ensure compliance with the new rules, but experts believe that many tanks are yet to be updated, simply because owners aren’t aware they are required to do so.
“According to official figures, Devon, North Yorkshire, Cornwall, Somerset, Shropshire and Cumbria are all understood to be potential hotspots for homes with septic tanks, due to their high number of registered farm holdings.
"According to reports, most farm holdings have one or more septic tanks.
“Solicitors who are managing the sale of a property are expected to notify the buyer that the property has a septic tank and tell them about the new regulations.
"It’s then up to the buyer to check if the septic tank meets regulations and either replace/upgrade it, or ensure the owner is aware this needs to happen, as a condition of sale.
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“However, many conveyancers aren’t aware of the regulations themselves, leaving buyers and sellers at risk of unexpected upgrade costs, a reduction in property value, or even a potential £100,000 fine from the Environment Agency.
“In some cases, where a septic tank does not comply with new regulations, homeowners could even face up to three months in prison when convicted in a magistrates’ court.”
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