Burials on private land

There is no law against burial on private land but you should consider the following points.

Burials on your property

Points to consider:

  • You should be the owner of the land, or have the owner’s permission.
  • You should check with a Solicitor that there is no covenant.
  • You should inform your mortgage company if they still have an interest in the property.
  • You should inform the police so that they can be satisfied that no offence has been committed.
  • The location of the grave should be marked on the Deeds to reduce the complication of police involvement if human remains are found in the future.
  • You can request a restrictive covenant to ensure that future owners of the property cannot remove the body, but this may cause problems with future sales of the property.
  • The death still needs to be registered with the local Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages, and the certificate returned to them recording the place of burial. However, as they do not keep this information you must mark the precise location of the grave on a document held with the Deeds.
  • You, as the owner have a duty to notify the Local Authority under the Burial Laws Amendment Act 1870.
  • You should inform your local Council and ask for their advice, particularly if there are infectious disease concerns, when their Environmental Health Officer should be contacted.
  • Planning permission may be needed from your local Council if you want to place a memorial.
  • The Environment Agency should be informed, in case there is a watercourse nearby that could be polluted. It may be that the Environment Agency could ask for 100m separation from a borehole, well or spring. Contact the general enquiry line on 03708 506506.
  • The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) have no objections but do have these standards:
    • (i) Not within 10m of a field drain, ditch or watercourse.
    • (ii) Not within 30m of a spring or watercourse
    • (iii) Not within 50m of a borehole or well
    • (iv) Not in waterlogged ground.
  • Bodies must have at least three feet of soil above them.
  • No more than two bodies should be buried in total, as this may be regarded as a “change of use” by planners to a graveyard.
  • If the body needs to be moved in the future, a Ministry of Justice licence would be required. Telephone 020 3334 3555.
  • The Natural Death Centre produces a Natural Death Handbook. You can telephone them on 01962 712 690.

Updated: 1 October 2014