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Long shot... Shared septic tank problem.

(37 Posts)
Methenyouplus4 Thu 04-Feb-16 21:18:27

We are having issues with our shared septic tank, is there anyone out there who may be able to help with our query before we have to pay for a solicitor? Thank you in advance.

Quoteunquote Thu 04-Feb-16 22:50:02

Ok what is the problem?

I would recommend having a good read and posting your query on this forum it will save you a lot of stress and money.

I also recommend you have a look at Klargesters,

Because they can go anywhere almost, and you could go independent.

Methenyouplus4 Fri 05-Feb-16 08:24:44

Thank you for replying- will try to be brief:

Bought a house 2 years ago with a septic tank on our land that is shared with two neighbours. Right to use is on deeds,along with joint responsibility for maintenance etc.

When we bought our house, it had been empty for over 2 years and they said it is usually emptied every 3 (this is in letters to solicitors). Since we moved in, we have had to have it emptied annually and both times they have refused to pay their full share as they claim there are more of us so we use more of the tank.

There are 6 of us but two are our one year old twins in nappies and we work, while they are retired and at home all day- I mention this only as it's their reasoning, I find it ridiculous to try to measure who puts more waste in! It is obvious when the house was occupied that usage would go up.

I've tried to reason with them but they obviously aren't interested. My suspension is that the tank is 50 years old and despite them havibg lived here almost as long and us only having bought the house two years ago, they are trying to set the precise NT of us paying a larger portion of costs for inevitable costs of replacement /repair that will be due soon (I've looked into it and our tank usually lasts 50 years which is how old it is).

Any advice appreciated.

Methenyouplus4 Fri 05-Feb-16 08:26:42

Sorry for typos, that should say my SUSPICION and that they are trying to set a PRESIDENT.

Collaborate Fri 05-Feb-16 09:12:35


Not sure about sharing the costs if there's nothing in the deeds (do check them), but have you investigated the cost of putting in a new tank just for you? Then you can stop off your connection to the existing tank and watch as the sewage backs up in to their system. If they are the only ones using that tank they'll have to pay to empty it, or it doesn't get done.

Methenyouplus4 Fri 05-Feb-16 09:25:47

Yes, precedent. Goodness me, bad enough first time but awful when correction is in capitals and is wrong!

Colla- it says in deeds to all 3 properties that costs are between them is to be split, they are going to argue that it doesn't say 'equally' so they should be able to pay less. The tank is on our land so would still affect us as they said in the past the sewage came up into the garden when they didn't empty it-nice. Obviously we aren't prepared to let it get to that stage.

HelpfulChap Fri 05-Feb-16 09:32:56

How much do you pay annually to have it emptied?

Unfortunate that it is on your land and you can't afford to turn a blind eye.

It sounds like it isn't large enough for the waste of three households as it is quite rare for them to overflow unless the filtration system is past its sell by date.

Methenyouplus4 Fri 05-Feb-16 09:43:46

We pay £240, split between 3. It's not a big expense, my worry (confirmed by speaking to neighbours) is that they want us to pay larger share of repair/replacement.

It had been two houses with two older couples in (ours has been empty and before that was a very elderly couple), we are 2 adults and 4 children (though as I said, two are in nappies and children share bath of an evening).

It's hard to even say if it needs doing more often because we have moved in (highly probable), because past two years have been very wet (which apparently affects how affective the soak away is) or because it is just a very, very old system in need of repair/replacement.

I should add, we do all get discount from our water rate to cover the expense of havibg it emptied.

Methenyouplus4 Fri 05-Feb-16 09:45:49


HelpfulChap Fri 05-Feb-16 09:50:00

I pay £120 annually. So you might be able to save yourself some money there.

I would cut my nose of to spite my face and it needed replacing. I would pay for it myself and only have it connected to my sewage!

Let them sort themselves out (not very helpful sorry).

Unfortunately I think a whole system including soak away is in the ball-park of £10k but haven't researched myself.

Methenyouplus4 Fri 05-Feb-16 10:03:45

She said she has already had someone out to see about having one put in her own garden but apparently can't as there is no land for the soak away (whereas our garden backs onto fields). I am flabbergasted that she would see this as preferable to just paying there share.

I have spoke to environmental health who said that they always split costs between number of properties sharing a tank (rather than people/bedrooms etc). They suggested that (other than going down legal route), other option is to let it overflow and then they will empty it and bill all three properties equally- I really don't want to do this as seems deeply unhygienic but also unfair on neighbours who live down the hill whose garden it impacts upon if soakaway not working effectively.

HelpfulChap Fri 05-Feb-16 10:10:25

Difficult. Why don't they have their own septic but you allow them to have their soak-away into your garden?

Or, as septics take up very little room have two, side by side, in your garden. One for them and one for you with one new joint soak-away. Each household pay for their own maintenance and emptying (would need something in writing to make sure it is done on an annual basis).

Penfold007 Fri 05-Feb-16 10:13:24

If all three properties get discount on water charges then that could be used to evidence what ratio each household should pay towards the emptying charges. So if all three properties get identical discounts bill is split equally three ways.

Methenyouplus4 Fri 05-Feb-16 10:33:00

Helpful- not sure about that as there would still be the same issue if they weren't emptying their tank as often as they should.

Pen- from what I can gather, water rates are based on size of property (ours is 4 bed, neighbours 2). I think we pay a slightly higher rate but think this is because of assumption that you use more with a bigger property (which to be fair, we will as we do lots of clothes washing etc). This doesn't affect tank though as tank holds solid waste (websites describe it as being calculated by 'bums on toilet seats). This is where is seems crazy to try to nit pick over whether x2 adults who are at home 7 days would use more than x2 who work, x2 children at school/childcare and X2 in nappies.

When I spoke to guy who empty tank and local environmental health, both said they had never heard of costs being divided in any other way than by number of properties, it is just too awkward otherwise and could mean having to recalculate each time circumstances change e.g. people move out/pass away/have a child etc.

fatbottomgirl67 Fri 05-Feb-16 11:14:40

we have a set up the same as yours but it's in the neighbours garden. We all pay a 1/3 each when its emptied of if work needs doing but it's in our deeds.
I would be tempted, if it does need replacing, to say to them that you are only putting one in for your use. Why should you have to have other peoples waste in your garden if they are not prepared to pay their way and if it's not in the deeds surely you are under no obligation?

Methenyouplus4 Fri 05-Feb-16 11:33:12

Fat- it is in the deeds that they have access to that tank. From what I can gather, we would be in our rights to have that tank replaced when the time comes and they would have no rights to new tank. That would be awful for them and personally would not want it to come to that- I just want them to pay their share.

Penfold007 Fri 05-Feb-16 11:58:04

So 8 bedrooms between 3 properties, 4/8, 2/8 & 2/8 doesn't seem unfair. You will soon have 4 bums on seats compared to neighbours 2 bums, the shared bathing is irrelevant as its water not solids.

That said as the norm is a 3/3/3 split then that's how it should remain.

Penfold007 Fri 05-Feb-16 11:58:52

Sorry you have 6 bums to their 2 bums!

JaneAustinAllegro Fri 05-Feb-16 12:03:39

check whether your deeds have a positive obligation on you to allow them to drain their waste into your tank. Because if it doesn't, you can at least threaten to replace with a solo tank for your property only.
Annual emptying does however sound very normal.
when you bought the house, did your solicitor point out this risk? because it's a pretty significant omission for them to miss and you might want to put them (& their insurers) on notice of a negligence claim in the event that this starts to cost you money.

Methenyouplus4 Fri 05-Feb-16 12:15:34

Pen- I can genuinely see that point but it's not that cut and dried- how do you account for the fact that we aren't at home 5 of those days and they are? Or that they have had tank use for 50 years and we have moved in relatively recently? Also, they had their house for sale recently (they took it down as little interest) but what if we pay over and above the usual third for a new tank (which is £££) as there is more of us then they decide to sell again and a family move in? I just don't see how you can count all these factors, which is why I can only see it being fair that we pay equally.

Others who live by who have tanks said they all share equally and I think this is the standard unless exceptional circumstances (e.g. One property is a holiday home used a few weeks each year) and even then it seems those arrangements are made informally between neighbours (as it seems on the deeds it is always a responsibility shared between number of properties ).

Methenyouplus4 Fri 05-Feb-16 12:23:03

Jane- solicitor is currently pulling deeds as they had been archived; if memory serves, it says they have right to use of tank and are jointly responsible for its maintenance. The wording in the form she signed was that costs were 'split'. From what I can gather though, the deeds refer to that specific tank, so if things got nasty, we could threaten to have that one condemned and put the new one in a different site (thereby cutting them off). Would really not want it to go that far.

EnriqueTheRingBearingLizard Fri 05-Feb-16 13:52:29

We have exactly the same arrangement. There are twice as many people in one of the houses than in the other two but the deeds say the cost is split equally and despite the neighbours offering to pay more, we left it as it was.

It's the only fair way and as you say, any of the houses could change hands and the fractions change yet again. You stick with the arrangement specified in the Deeds.

Hereward1332 Fri 05-Feb-16 15:03:19

The precedent has been set before you moved in if the tank has been there for 50 years. How were the bills split before you bought the house?

Quoteunquote Fri 05-Feb-16 15:22:40

Honestly your system is not working properly,

A septic system is the same as a human digestive system, the bacteria has to be right for it to work, that means unless your system could digest something neither can the tank,

So unless all occupiers of the different homes are being very careful not to use any of the wrong products you are fighting a losing battle.

Does anyone in any of the houses use anything else other than eco products?

Anything like bleach,disinfectants, washing powders?

Because if you have anything going into the system that kills bacteria then the system will never work properly.

The environment agency expect everyone to replace these old systems.

either get everyone to stop using wrong products and stick a dead lamb down there to get the bacteria back or put in your own klargester and at least you will be able to police your own households use of the wrong products.

NaiceVillageOfTheDammed Fri 05-Feb-16 15:38:21

We use a septic. Shared between 7 houses in a neighbour's garden. Cost is split equally between houses and when neighbour isn't around to let in the honey wagon, one of us (the other neighbours) will supervise.

Check with a solicitor.
1. Can you have your own septic in your garden?
2. Do you have to have another tank in your garden for your neighbours?
3. Small claims for enforcing payment of emptying current tank. If they don't pay, put a charge on their house. It buggers them up more than the £1 a week they'll offer to pay.

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