Buying a house in a rural area – services, bats, agricultural ties

Buying a house in a rural area has many attractions including cleaner air and a slower pace of life.  However, there are a number of issues which should be considered especially for those moving from a town or city.

Points to consider when buying a house in a rural area:

  1. Services – check which mains services are connected to the property.  While most properties will have mains electricity and water, not all homes are connected to mains gas.  Many properties in rural areas have a private drainage system.  Ask the vendor what services are connected to the property and also what services are available in the area, eg, the property may not be connected to mains gas but there may be mains gas nearby.  If the property has private drainage then ask the vendor for details such as whether there is a mini sewerage treatment system, septic tank, soakaway, etc.  Check when any septic tank was last emptied and which company usually carries this out.  See Instructing a Surveyor


  1. Bats – bats are common in rural properties. They often nest in outbuildings and/or the roof or cavity walls of the house itself.  If you live in a house with bats it may not be obvious but they can be detected by the presence of droppings.  Bats are protected and there are controls on carrying out works on properties with bats.  Ask the vendors whether they are aware of any bats roosting in the house and/or outbuildings.  For further information on bats visit     


  1. Rats and mice – rats, mice and other rodents are common in rural areas both within residential parts and outbuildings. There are a number of methods of controlling rodents including traditional traps, poison or friendly traps (which allow a mouse to be caught alive and then set free away from the house).  Whichever method you choose, it is important to keep rodents under control as they can multiply very quickly.


  1. Conservation Areas and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) – if you are planning to buy a house in a rural area/village it is important to check whether it falls within a Conservation Area.  Conservation Areas aim to control what works can be carried out in an area in an attempt to prevent inappropriate development.  However, the downside is that these controls will also affect works you plan to carry out to your own property.  Contact your Local Authority to check whether the property you plan to buy falls within a Conservation Area.  To find out whether a property falls within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) visit 


  1. Agricultural ties – a property with an agricultural would normally have an occupancy restriction, typically restricting occupancy to persons employed, or last employed in agriculture in the area.  In some instances this restriction can be extended to others, such as widows or widowers of someone employed or last employed in agriculture.  If you propose to buy a property with an agricultural tie, or any other form of occupancy restriction, check the details of the restrictions with the Local Authority.  Properties with an agricultural tie typically sell for a lower price, ie, have a lower value, than similar properties without an occupancy restriction, so if you are considering purchasing a property which has a lower price than you would have expected, this may be because it has an agricultural tie.

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