Septic tank legislation and what you need to know

New legislation around septic tank use is now in force and you would be wise to consider your obligations before putting your home on the market. What are your responsibilities and how will this affect you if you’re thinking of selling your home?

For those living in a rural area the simple septic tank is a major convenience(!), however it’s now more important than ever to ensure your tank meets the septic tank and treatment plant general binding rules. If you’re thinking of selling your home in the near future, and have a septic tank, you’ll need to consider whether your system is compliant before you begin marketing your home. If it’s not, you will need to make some changes to ensure it is compliant. This is an important issue that could affect the sale of your home.

The new rules state that all waste must be from domestic use and not cause pollution, and there are new rules depending on how your waste is released. For waste released to the ground, for example in your back garden, the new rules state that you must use a septic tank or small treatment plant and a drainage field filtration system. You should apply for a permit before waste is released to a well, borehole or other deep structure, if you release more than 2,000 litres a day or if you release in a groundwater source protection zone. There’s a handy calculator on the website

For waste released to surface water, for example a river or stream, you must use a small sewage treatment plant and you’ll need a permit to release more than 5,000 litres a day.

For homeowners who’ve replaced their tanks recently, you may have already been advised to buy one that doesn’t discharge into a watercourse. However, if your tank is more than a few years old and drains into a watercourse, you’re bound by the new legislation to replace it or alter it to comply with the regulations.

You should seek advice from a competent service engineer if you need help understanding what treatment system you have and what you are required to do under the general binding rules.