Rural property buyers warned to be ‘aware of’ little-known law

Rural properties are in high demand with searches for “Farms for Sale” up 22 percent in the last three months, according to Google search results. Google searches for ‘Rural Homes for Sale’ are also up 900 percent in the last three months. It comes as house prices in rural areas have grown by an impressive 29 percent and farmland values by 14 percent since 2018.

However, Britons looking to move to the countryside should be aware that there is a little-known law that impacts some homes in agricultural areas.

A new Government regulation came into force in January 2015 relating to septic tanks; specifically how they discharge waste, their size and their condition.

There are more than half a million homes in the UK with septic tanks with the majority of homes being part of rural properties.

Some hotspots nationwide include Devon, North Yorkshire, Cornwall, Somerset, Shropshire and Cumbria.

Those with septic tanks were given until January 2020 to upgrade Thor homes to ensure they complied with the new rules.

However, some experts claim there are many tanks that are yet to be updated because homeowners aren’t aware they need to.

During a property sale, solicitors managing the home are expected to tell the buyer if the property has a septic tank and the new regulations regarding them.

The buyer will then need to check if the septic tank meets regulations and either replace it, upgrade it or ensure the wars is aware this needs to happen as a condition of the sale.

Don’t miss…
Crops to avoid growing in your garden – they could be ‘destroyed’ [LATEST]
Cement, soil and dirt can be used to get rid of rats [INSIGHT]
Kitchen designer shares how to boost property value [ANALYSIS]

However, some conveyancers aren’t even aware of the regulations which leaves buyers and sellers facing unexpected costs, a reduced property value or even a potential £100,000 fine from the Environment Agency.

In some cases, homeowners could even face up to three months in prison when convicted in a magistrates’ court if their septic tank does not comply with the new regulations.

If a solicitor does not notify a buyer, this could be considered an act of conveyancing negligence. If a homeowner is affected by this mistake, they could claim compensation.

With this in mind, Been Let Down, a leading law firm specialising in medical and professional negligence, is experiencing a growing number of cases relating to septic tank conveyancing negligence.

The company claims they have seen a 112 percent surge month on month from January 2023 to February 2023 in Septic Tank Negligence claim enquiries.

Looking for a new home, or just fancy a look? Add your postcode below or visit InYourArea

The estimated damages range from between £10,000 – £50,000 per case (but around £18,000 on average).

Compensation is determined by the financial loss experienced by the claimant.

These include the costs to update the septic tank in line with regulations or the impact it has had on the value of their home after the issue is highlighted to a buyer.

The issue typically impacts people in three ways:

1. People who bought their home with a septic tank after January 2020 and were not told abut the new regulations by their solicitor and are now only aware of the issue because they’re selling their home

2. Those who bought their homes with a septic tank after January 2020 and were not told about the new regulations by their solicitor and so have recently found out they need to upgrade their tank

3. People in the process of buying a home with a septic tank and may want to negotiate on the property value if the tank does not meet the new regulations.

Tony Hill, head of professional Negligence at Been Let Down explained: “This is a growing issue, and something that we believe more rural homeowners and house-hunters need to be made aware of.

“In this instance, negligence occurs when the conveyancer (the solicitor handling the purchase) doesn’t tell the buyer about the new regulations.

“Letting a buyer know about the regulations could be as simple as a standardised sentence in terms and conditions or check list, so any complications relating to the issue really is easily avoidable.

“We’re finding that a lot of solicitors don’t know about the law-change though, and some are therefore being unintentionally negligent as a consequence.

“For those affected, typically a claim must be made within six years of purchase of the property with a defective tank.

“In many cases we deal with, our client hasn’t actually paid any money yet or had the upgrade work done.

“It is most common for clients to discover that their tank doesn’t meet the regulation when they come to sell, and then they must make the claim to be able to afford to have the work done, (which can often cost in excess of £10,000), so their property value is not impacted.”

Source: Read Full Article