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GregG

Seller Dishonesty. Estate Agents Duty Of Care.

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I recently made an offer on a house of 340k. After two visits and instructing solicitors I found out that the house was not connected to the sewer like all the other houses in the street but rather had a cesspool. A cesspool is a tank that holds all your waste water which then needs to be pumped away at a cost of £100 for every 2000 gallons.

Naturally when I discovered this shitty little detail in the HIP I was somewhat alarmed because the average 4 person family produces 2000 gallons of grey and black water every month. So waste water bills would be £1200 per year compared to £460 on the main sewer. Plus maintenance of the tank plus the hassle of the man turning up EVERY month with the pumping truck.

I went to see the owners (married couple) who insisted that only had their 2000 gallon tank emptied every 3.5 months, which I knew was a lie, because nobody could economise on water to that degree. So I had a little sniff around the property and found a semi obscured 2.5 inch polypipe going to one of their fences which borders on a wood. They are basically dumping greywater to ground under their fence and because it is sandy soil the soaking away ispeed is better than normal. I asked them about the pipe and they said it did nothing. Yeah, Right!

So the next day I went around the back and found a 2.5 foot very soggy patch of forest surrounded by firmer ground right under the section of fence where the pipe disappeared underground. The problem is firstly you need a discharge certificate to dump grey water, secondly they wouldn't get one without some sort of pre-treatment because the garden backs right on to a small brook which takes the runoff from the local roads. So there is a cost involved in rectifying that. Plus the hassle. Lastly the are dumping it on the forest, not their land.

I brought up my findings, politely and matter of fact like, and they STILL denied that the pipe was used and mentioned that co-incidently a builder had turned up not 4 hours before and removed the pipe. What a co-incidence. They are still swearing blind that ALL of their waste water goes to the CEsspool. But of course that is impossible. Obviously they are tanking the black (toilet) and dumping the grey (everything else) untreated. Even the proportions match. About 1/3 of your waste water is used to flush the loo.

I'm going to see the Estate Agent tomorrow and wondered what sort of duty of care he has to inform other purchasers about the problem if they don't accept my lower offer allowing me to connect to the mains. i.e. Does what they are doing go public now and will the sellers find it harder to sell.

They claim they are selling to downsize, suggesting that their mortgage is too big. They bought for £320k in 2006 but claim at £340k they'll be making a loss. Possibly true as they've made some "improvements". One minute they claimed they were buying a new build house and the next they seem to be renting.

Any advice?

Edited by GregG

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I recently made an offer on a house of 340k. After two visits and instructing solicitors I found out that the house was not connected to the sewer like all the other houses in the street but rather had a cesspool. A cesspool is a tank that holds all your waste water which then needs to be pumped away at a cost of £100 for every 2000 gallons.

Naturally when I discovered this shitty little detail in the HIP I was somewhat alarms because the average 4 person family produces 2000 gallons of grey and black water every month. So waste water bills would be £1200 per year compared to £460 on the main sewer. Plus maintenance of the tank plus the hassle of the man turning up EVERY month with the pumping truck.

I went to see the owners (married couple) who insisted that only had their 2000 gallon tank emptied every 3.5 months, which I knew was a lie, because nobody could economise on water to that degree. So I had a little sniff around the property and found a semi obscured 2.5 inch polypipe going to one of their fences which borders on a wood. They are basically dumping it to ground under their fence and because it is sandy soil the soaking away ispeed is better than normal. I asked them about the pipe and they said it did nothing. Yeah Right!

So the next day I went around the back and found a 2.5 foot soggy patch of forest surrounded by firmer ground right under the section of fence where the pipe disappeared underground. The problem is firstly you need a discharge certificate to dump grey water, secondly they wouldn't get one without some sort of pre-treatment because the garden backs right on to a small brook. So there is a cost involved in rectifying that. Plus the hassle. Lastly the are dumping it on the forest, not their land.

I brought up my findings and they STILL denied that the pipe was used and mentioned that co-incidently a builder had turned up not 4 hours before and removed the pipe. They are still swearing that ALL of their waste water goes to the CEsspool. But of course that is impossible.

I'm going to see the Estate Agent tomorrow and wondered what sort of duty of care he has to inform other purchasers about the problem if they don't accept my lower offer allowing me to connect to the mains.

They claim they are selling to downsize, suggesting that their mortgage is too big. They bought for £320 in 2006 but claim at £340 they'll be making a loss. Possibly true as they've made some "improvements". One minute they claimed they were buying a new build and the next they seem to be renting.

Any advice?

doesn't sound worth going over your offer, connecting to mains isn't going to be cheap. Stick to your guns and if they don't accept then you can report them to the environment agency or go and block their spill pipe up assuming that it is still there or reinstalled.

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I recently made an offer on a house of 340k. After two visits and instructing solicitors I found out that the house was not connected to the sewer like all the other houses in the street but rather had a cesspool. A cesspool is a tank that holds all your waste water which then needs to be pumped away at a cost of £100 for every 2000 gallons.

Naturally when I discovered this shitty little detail in the HIP I was somewhat alarmed because the average 4 person family produces 2000 gallons of grey and black water every month. So waste water bills would be £1200 per year compared to £460 on the main sewer. Plus maintenance of the tank plus the hassle of the man turning up EVERY month with the pumping truck.

I went to see the owners (married couple) who insisted that only had their 2000 gallon tank emptied every 3.5 months, which I knew was a lie, because nobody could economise on water to that degree. So I had a little sniff around the property and found a semi obscured 2.5 inch polypipe going to one of their fences which borders on a wood. They are basically dumping greywater to ground under their fence and because it is sandy soil the soaking away ispeed is better than normal. I asked them about the pipe and they said it did nothing. Yeah, Right!

So the next day I went around the back and found a 2.5 foot very soggy patch of forest surrounded by firmer ground right under the section of fence where the pipe disappeared underground. The problem is firstly you need a discharge certificate to dump grey water, secondly they wouldn't get one without some sort of pre-treatment because the garden backs right on to a small brook which takes the runoff from the local roads. So there is a cost involved in rectifying that. Plus the hassle. Lastly the are dumping it on the forest, not their land.

I brought up my findings, politely and matter of fact like, and they STILL denied that the pipe was used and mentioned that co-incidently a builder had turned up not 4 hours before and removed the pipe. What a co-incidence. They are still swearing blind that ALL of their waste water goes to the CEsspool. But of course that is impossible. Obviously they are tanking the black (toilet) and dumping the grey (everything else) untreated. Even the proportions match. About 1/3 of your waste water is used to flush the loo.

I'm going to see the Estate Agent tomorrow and wondered what sort of duty of care he has to inform other purchasers about the problem if they don't accept my lower offer allowing me to connect to the mains. i.e. Does what they are doing go public now and will the sellers find it harder to sell.

They claim they are selling to downsize, suggesting that their mortgage is too big. They bought for £320k in 2006 but claim at £340k they'll be making a loss. Possibly true as they've made some "improvements". One minute they claimed they were buying a new build house and the next they seem to be renting.

Any advice?

Proved liars. You are taking a risk already knowing this fact. What else could they be covering up?

I don't think EAs have to inform any other purchaser. It's always up to the purchaser to find everything out for themselves and let's face it, most EAs just tell us a pack of lies too half the time!

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walk away, its obviously a shitty deal.

the argument that they will loose money at 340 is rubbish because everyone does work on a property. they have had use of the house for years, they cant expect to make a profit on everything.

regarding the cess pit, surely it has a soakaway? Most cess pits do, so you should only really have to desludge it once every few years? Essentially the solids settle and the surface water which is cleaner filters off into a gravel drain.

even so, i would still walk away. old people seem to think they can get out of problems by denying they exist. if they are denying this, what else are they hiding.

tell them you have informed the environment aency that they are illegally discharginging, that will scare them, they'll have a heart attack, the property will go to action, they'll discover bodies in the grounds, turns out thy were serial killers and you'll get the property for £80k.

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Proved liars. You are taking a risk already knowing this fact. What else could they be covering up?

I don't think EAs have to inform any other purchaser. It's always up to the purchaser to find everything out for themselves and let's face it, most EAs just tell us a pack of lies too half the time!

yep, the story changing from downsizing to renting is of concern also. Either they need to sell but don't want to let desperation show otherwise they are offloading the place for a reason. Doesn't sound worth the risk or the hassle imho.

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doesn't sound worth going over your offer, connecting to mains isn't going to be cheap. Stick to your guns and if they don't accept then you can report them to the environment agency or go and block their spill pipe up assuming that it is still there or reinstalled.

If pulling the plug after the bath cost you a quid, would you re-install it?

I doubt they've even cut it.

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walk away, its obviously a shitty deal.

the argument that they will loose money at 340 is rubbish because everyone does work on a property. they have had use of the house for years, they cant expect to make a profit on everything.

regarding the cess pit, surely it has a soakaway? Most cess pits do, so you should only really have to desludge it once every few years? Essentially the solids settle and the surface water which is cleaner filters off into a gravel drain.

No a septic tank has a soakaway. A cesspool is a sealed tank (concrete hole in the ground) that holds everything.

even so, i would still walk away. old people seem to think they can get out of problems by denying they exist. if they are denying this, what else are they hiding.

They are not old they are 35.

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yep, the story changing from downsizing to renting is of concern also. Either they need to sell but don't want to let desperation show otherwise they are offloading the place for a reason. Doesn't sound worth the risk or the hassle imho.

I had a survey by eserve (f'ing useless. "It has four walls and a roof"). If I pay for a detailed survey would it find, dry rot, mold, rats, etc if those problems existed.

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I used to own a house in Ashdown Forest with a cess pit like the one you describe. It was called a "forest drain" where the water would flow from the cess pit overflow onto the forest and the "solids" would sink to the bottom.

We had ours emptied 2 or 3 times a year.

As far as I know all the cottages on the forest had the same system.

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They claim they are selling to downsize, suggesting that their mortgage is too big. They bought for £320k in 2006 but claim at £340k they'll be making a loss. Possibly true as they've made some "improvements". One minute they claimed they were buying a new build house and the next they seem to be renting.

Them claiming to be making a loss is pure emotional blackmail, not your problemo.

You come across as a pretty clued up guy, why did you make such a high opening offer? Are adjacent properties selling for that much?

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I believe an estate agent must describe the property accurately, otherwise he (or the seller) can be sued for misrepresentation.

The trick is in what he DOESN'T say. In this case it's buyer beware.

If the cesspit is mentioned in the brief he is probably covered. Its up to the buyers to ask the right questions.

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Guest AuntJess
doesn't sound worth going over your offer, connecting to mains isn't going to be cheap. Stick to your guns and if they don't accept then you can report them to the environment agency or go and block their spill pipe up assuming that it is still there or reinstalled.

Good luck with that one. <_< The EA seem to be very adept at avoiding work and display quite creative reasoning to that end.

Stick at it tho: THAT is a disgusting thing to do. :angry: What about the effects on the wildlife and indirectly...us?

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I think (but you would need to check) that vendors and Estate Agents have a legal duty to answer questions about a property they are selling truthfully. In this instance I would put the questions and points of concern in writing to both the vendors and Estate Agent requesting an answer. In this way they are forced to answer, in writing, and there is a record of the question(s) and response(s) that will be handy if it ever came down to be an issue that needed to be dealt with legally.

However, if it was me I would just walk away from this house - too much trouble by far (but that is just my opinion).

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Are you sure this isn't a septic tank that's been incorrectly identified in the HIP? It sounds exactly like the arrangement at the house we rent where (as described before) the clean water from the middle of the tank is allowed to be discharged into woodland and streams. The tank we have only needs emptying every couple of years.

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Something here isnt right. All of my clients who sell properties with septic tanks or cesspits find it much cheaper than being on mains drainage. I think you have got your timetable of emptying wrong.

As for water going to a soakaway, if you are just talking about surface water this is fine. Many, many houses have soakaways for surface water and have no problems at all. You also get about £20.00 a year off your drainage bill (obviously this property wont have one at all as it is connected to a septic tank/cesspit).

Really dont think your problem is as bad as you are saying. Your solicitor would have spotted the drainage issue straightaway. What is their advice on the situation?

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A few months ago we went to see a house and would have put an offer on it, had the following not occurred.

After having a look round the house, my husband ended up chatting to the wife and I ended up chatting to the husband.

When we left, my husband and I were talking about how much we really liked the house, etc. and discussing what offer to submit until, I mentioned that the husband had told me that they were selling the house and buying another to reduce his time commuting to work, as his commute to work had become a burden since their little boy had been born. He was driving to central London every day. Nothing wrong with that, you may think. However, my husband then said, that's odd as the wife had told him that they had already found a property and their offer had been accepted, my husband asked where they were moving to and believe it or not, it was less than 2 miles away, just one junction closer to his place of work!!

Alarm bells rang loud and clear for us, goodness only knows the real reason for them selling but we lost all interest. We figured that there was no guarantee that the EA would have been honest with us about their 'real' reasons for selling had we asked. To be fair, the vendors probably had not given their real motivation to sell to the EA anyway.......

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I recently made an offer on a house of 340k. After two visits and instructing solicitors I found out that the house was not connected to the sewer like all the other houses in the street but rather had a cesspool. A cesspool is a tank that holds all your waste water which then needs to be pumped away at a cost of £100 for every 2000 gallons.

Naturally when I discovered this shitty little detail in the HIP I was somewhat alarmed because the average 4 person family produces 2000 gallons of grey and black water every month. So waste water bills would be £1200 per year compared to £460 on the main sewer. Plus maintenance of the tank plus the hassle of the man turning up EVERY month with the pumping truck.

I went to see the owners (married couple) who insisted that only had their 2000 gallon tank emptied every 3.5 months, which I knew was a lie, because nobody could economise on water to that degree. So I had a little sniff around the property and found a semi obscured 2.5 inch polypipe going to one of their fences which borders on a wood. They are basically dumping greywater to ground under their fence and because it is sandy soil the soaking away ispeed is better than normal. I asked them about the pipe and they said it did nothing. Yeah, Right!

So the next day I went around the back and found a 2.5 foot very soggy patch of forest surrounded by firmer ground right under the section of fence where the pipe disappeared underground. The problem is firstly you need a discharge certificate to dump grey water, secondly they wouldn't get one without some sort of pre-treatment because the garden backs right on to a small brook which takes the runoff from the local roads. So there is a cost involved in rectifying that. Plus the hassle. Lastly the are dumping it on the forest, not their land.

I brought up my findings, politely and matter of fact like, and they STILL denied that the pipe was used and mentioned that co-incidently a builder had turned up not 4 hours before and removed the pipe. What a co-incidence. They are still swearing blind that ALL of their waste water goes to the CEsspool. But of course that is impossible. Obviously they are tanking the black (toilet) and dumping the grey (everything else) untreated. Even the proportions match. About 1/3 of your waste water is used to flush the loo.

I'm going to see the Estate Agent tomorrow and wondered what sort of duty of care he has to inform other purchasers about the problem if they don't accept my lower offer allowing me to connect to the mains. i.e. Does what they are doing go public now and will the sellers find it harder to sell.

They claim they are selling to downsize, suggesting that their mortgage is too big. They bought for £320k in 2006 but claim at £340k they'll be making a loss. Possibly true as they've made some "improvements". One minute they claimed they were buying a new build house and the next they seem to be renting.

Any advice?

I don't know what you are whinging about!

I lived with one of these in a remote farmhouse for 6 years! The family sound correct for period of emptying 4-6months.

It's normal for excess water to drain out of the cess pit to earth. Damn good for veggie patch.

Plus you get your water bill REDUCED to counter the cost of getting rid of it by pumping!

Also no rain run-off costs from water company either!

Make sure you got the reduction - water board do anything to charge full price to the ignorant!

Also if you are out in the country some tenners to a local farmer and he will pump it for you for far less! Just don't put sanitory towels down the loo coz they don't like it (they show in the fields before plowing in!)

Country-ways Boyeee!

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When we left, my husband and I were talking about how much we really liked the house, etc. and discussing what offer to submit until, I mentioned that the husband had told me that they were selling the house and buying another to reduce his time commuting to work, as his commute to work had become a burden since their little boy had been born. He was driving to central London every day. Nothing wrong with that, you may think. However, my husband then said, that's odd as the wife had told him that they had already found a property and their offer had been accepted, my husband asked where they were moving to and believe it or not, it was less than 2 miles away, just one junction closer to his place of work!!

Alarm bells rang loud and clear for us, goodness only knows the real reason for them selling but we lost all interest. We figured that there was no guarantee that the EA would have been honest with us about their 'real' reasons for selling had we asked. To be fair, the vendors probably had not given their eal motivation to sell to the EA anyway.......

Wow you have a suspicious mind.

They both basically said the same thing, i.e. moving close to work. Ok 2 miles isn't very far but maybe it took them within commuting distance of a mainline train station or those 2 miles reduced his commute by 15 minutes. Either way no reason to walk away from a house you like. Who cares what their reasons for moving are if you like the house?

I

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Wow you have a suspicious mind.

They both basically said the same thing, i.e. moving close to work. Ok 2 miles isn't very far but maybe it took them within commuting distance of a mainline train station or those 2 miles reduced his commute by 15 minutes. Either way no reason to walk away from a house you like. Who cares what their reasons for moving are if you like the house?

I

I know what you mean but he claimed that he drove to work, where they were moving to would actually take them slightly further away from the nearest station........

We wondered if it may have been problem neighbours.......

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