Lincolnshire Drainage Solutions guides

Septic Tank Partnerships

In rural areas, many properties use off-mains drainage systems because they are far from the main sewer lines, making connection impractical. These systems fall into three categories: septic tanks, sewage treatment plants, and cesspits.

Septic tanks are the most common off-mains drainage system. In this guide, we’ll primarily focus on septic tanks, but the information applies to any shared drainage tank, regardless of its specific type.

1. Shared Septic Tank Locations and Ownership Insights

Shared septic tanks typically have one of two primary locations: they either serve a cluster of neighbouring properties or are situated within the boundaries of a property that is part of the shared system. In some cases, shared septic tanks, along with their connecting soakaway systems, may be located on land not owned by any of the properties connected to them. It’s crucial to accurately pinpoint the location of the shared septic tank and understand the ownership of the land it sits on.

For prospective property buyers, especially those considering properties with shared septic tanks, conducting thorough research into historical issues related to other property owners or third-party landowners is equally important. This investigation should include an examination of past complications related to cost-sharing agreements and any potential challenges related to access that may have arisen over time.

2. Fair Cost-Sharing for Shared Septic Tank Maintenance

Fair and cooperative cost-sharing for maintaining, emptying, or repairing shared septic tanks is crucial. Regular tank emptying, typically done annually, is essential for proper functioning. In case of damage or the need for replacement, it is generally agreed that the costs should be distributed equally among the properties connected to the shared septic tank.

For example, if a shared septic tank issue leads to pollution and requires intervention from the Environmental Health Team of the Local Authority, the incurred costs are usually divided equally among all connected properties. Similarly, in cases where a damaged shared septic tank is covered by the building insurance policies of each property, insurers also tend to allocate the costs of necessary repairs or works equally among all affected properties.

It’s important to note that the only exception to this equal cost-sharing principle is if the deeds of the involved properties specify a different arrangement, although such instances are rare.

3. Efficient Cost Management for Shared Tank Maintenance

Efficiently managing costs related to emptying and repair works for shared septic tanks is crucial for seamless operations. Typically, arrangements for ongoing management of a shared tank and access rights are outlined in property deeds or specified in a separate formal agreement. However, there are instances where these arrangements are more informal, relying on verbal agreements among the property owners involved.

To streamline the process and ensure clarity, it is highly advisable to establish a formal agreement, especially if the property deeds do not address the shared drainage system. Some property owners opt to create a separate residents’ association, where each property contributes a predetermined annual amount to cover routine emptying costs. This approach not only eliminates the need for potentially awkward discussions but also sets clear guidelines for addressing any issues that may arise.

For prospective property buyers considering a property with a shared septic tank, gaining insight into the existing arrangements is crucial. The absence of a formal agreement can lead to complications for all parties involved, making it prudent to insist on the presence of a written agreement to safeguard everyone’s interests.

4. Accessing a Shared Septic Tank on Neighbouring Land

In situations where your property is connected to a shared septic tank, the tank itself may be located on your neighbour’s land, outside your property’s boundaries. Despite this, you share responsibility for regular emptying and maintenance of the tank, particularly with sewage treatment plants, and addressing any potential damage.

If the drainage system leads to pollution, you have a legal obligation to rectify the issue. The property deeds should explicitly state your rights of access to the septic tank for the purposes of emptying and repairs. As a general guideline, when you need to access a tank situated on land not within your property’s boundary, it is considered courteous to provide at least a week’s notice to the property owner on whose land the tank is located, indicating your intention to access the tank. This ensures a cooperative and considerate approach to shared septic tank maintenance.

5. Understanding Building Insurance for Shared Tanks

In the context of shared tanks, most standard building insurance policies typically cover the costs associated with repairing or replacing a damaged tank. However, it’s essential to be aware that a few policies may have clauses excluding coverage for drainage systems located outside your property boundaries. To ensure you’re adequately protected, it’s imperative to thoroughly review your policy’s terms and conditions, verifying whether it encompasses shared septic tanks. If not, alternative insurance options are readily available for consideration.

In the event of damage to your tank, we are here to provide assistance and guidance. Feel free to contact us today at 07902 688279 for support and solutions.