Discovering that your dream home lies within a so-called ‘radon affected area’ can come as a nasty surprise to would-be homebuyers, and it’s often only flagged up late in the process. But what does this mean, and what should you do?
As part of UK Radon Awareness Week, we are sharing information to help buyers decide how to proceed and protect their interests.
Radon is present in all buildings in varying concentrations, but in certain parts of the country the risk of high levels accumulating in buildings is greater due to the underlying geology. These areas are classified as ‘intermediate risk’ or ‘higher risk’ areas. There are no parts of the country that are ‘radon free’ but some parts are classified as ‘lower risk’ areas.
The affected area status of any given property will be reported in the CON29 form completed during the solicitor’s conveyancing process (this form also includes information on mining areas, flood risk areas, subsidence risk etc). The vendors will also complete the TA6 form to give information about the property and, among other things, asks whether a radon test has been performed and if so, what the results were. In the majority of cases, the vendor will not have conducted a test, therefore you will have no knowledge prior to buying the property what the indoor radon concentration is.
The UK Radon Association, Public Health England and the Law Society all recommend the ‘radon bond’ system, which involves a sum of the purchase price being retained by one of the solicitors whilst radon testing is carried out after completion and the new owners are in occupation. This test is performed over a three month period and if the results show that the property contains elevated radon levels, remedial works can be paid for using the retained funds. If the test shows only low radon levels, the money is released to the vendor.
You can read more advice on dealing with radon during property transactions, including suggested amounts for the radon bond, on the UK Radon Association website.