Radon: What estate agents need to know

Completing a sale on a property is a goal every estate agent loves to achieve, but how many agents recognise that they are selling homes in radon affected areas?

The issue of this colourless and odourless gas does concern many home buyers, sellers and estate agents across the country, however there’s no need to panic, all you need to know is what to recommend to clients to help keep them safe.

So what do estate agents need to know?

What is radon?

According to the UK Radon Association, “Radon gas is an issue that can affect buildings of any type, size, age or location. Many people are unaware of the risks associated with radon, and are surprised to learn that their property may be affected by something which they cannot see or smell.”

What does this mean for you?

As radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive gas that can affect any property, it’s important that sellers test their properties and you, as an estate agent, inform the potential buyer to look out for the radon level in the report provided by the seller.

The result is given in a unit called Becquerels and expressed as Becquerels per cubic metre of air (bq/m3).

Public Health England recommends that action should be taking if a property shows an average radon level of more than 200 Becquerels per metre cubed (200 Bq m-3) and states the ideal level of radon should be around 100 Bq m-3.

How to find out the level of radon in an area

You can find out the levels of radon surrounding any property by using the UK radon map, which will show the levels of radon in different areas, however this is only a guide and remember, all buildings carry an element of risk.

Recognise that properties with basements or cellars are at a higher risk of radon exposure

If a property has a basement or cellar, the building is considered to be a higher risk. This is because there are extra surfaces in contact with the ground through which the gas can permeate into the building.

So, if your client is buying or selling a property with a living space below ground, make sure you advise the room be tested for radon, if the seller hasn’t already done so.

What you should recommend to home buyers

A home buyer who is aware of radon may ask the current owner if they have completed a three-month radon test. If the property owner has carried out a recent test, it is wise for the new buyer to ask to see the report.

However, if the property hasn’t been tested by the current owner, we highly recommend the buyer be advised to seek help from a radon mitigation specialist, such as ourselves, and ask them to carry out a test. At this stage, the buyer may want to discuss a retention with their solicitor.

Remember, you could also advise the buyer to carry out a risk assessment of their own property by checking the building’s postcode against the UK radon map. Nevertheless, if they do still want to check the property for radon you can, as the radon map is by no means definitive.

The most important thing to remember is that radon is no different than other minor building problem, such as rising damp or timber rot, which is routinely dealt with at the time of house purchase.

So don't leave it to chance, if you discover that a home you're selling is in a radon affected area or if you are simply unsure, then please contact us 01325 728039 or e-mail info@bcspreservation.co.uk.