What are the legal considerations when buying or selling a house with a wood burner?

Given the rise in electricity and gas prices, there has been a recent drive in the installation of wood burners over the winter months and with ever increasing utility costs not reducing, this is likely to be something that continues next winter.

What are the rules when buying a house with a wood burner?

When buying a house fitted with a wood burner it is important that a HETAS certificate was issued at the time of the installation. This certifies that the installation complies with the relevant buildings regulations and the fitting of the wood burner meets the current safety regulations.

It has been a legal requirement to notify building control of these installations since 2011. Your home insurance will also require any wood burner to have been fitted to building regulation standards in order to validate the insurance.

Any lender will require that all competent authority certificates including HETAS are available and a solicitor cannot give a valid report on title to a lender without the required certificate. Therefore, it is important to check with your installer that they are HETAS registered.

Can I take my wood burner with me when I move house?

If you are moving home and you have a wood burner you can check on the HETAS website to obtain a copy of the certificate if it has been lost. If you never received a HETAS certificate and plan to sell your home, it is important that you arrange for your chimney to be swept and keep the receipt.

It is possible to obtain an indemnity policy for lack of building regulations which can include wood burners and these can be provided to a buyer to cover the risk. However, ill fitting wood burners can leach carbon monoxide which is potentially fatal, so whilst an indemnity policy will cover the cost of potential enforcement by the local authority for lack of building regulation it would not cover the cost of faulty installation.

How Moore Barlow can help

Our advice is for buyers and sellers to ensure that wood burners are inspected by a registered HETAS engineer before exchange of contracts to confirm they are correctly installed. With new wood burners and lining of chimneys now costing several thousand of pounds, this advice could save your hard-earned money going up in smoke and potentially save a life.

If you have any questions about the legalities of buying or selling a property with a wood burner, please contact our rural property team.