Changes to private sewer ownership

Year Published: 2011

From 1 October 2011 property owners will no longer be responsible for certain sewer pipes and lateral drains that connect their homes to public sewers.

Sewers are the pipes that take foul sewage and surface water away from more than one property.

Lateral drains take foul sewage (waste from toilets, bathrooms and kitchens) and surface water (rain water) away from individual properties and lie outside of the property’s boundary.

The change means that the ownership of private sewers that run under peoples’ property and connect to the public sewer system will move from the homeowner to the water companies.

Water companies will, therefore, take over the responsibility of repairing collapsed and blocked sewers from 1 October 2011. If you do have a problem from this date, then you need to report it to your water company.

Once the transfer has been completed, the annual cost to sewerage bill payers is estimated, on average to amount to an increase of £5 per annum on all sewerage bills from 2011, rising to £8 by 2019, with a range of £3 – £14 across the water and sewerage companies. The cost will vary from company to company.

DEFRA have indicated that OFWAT will scrutinise water companies’ proposals so bills can be kept as low as possible and any costs passed on to customers are justified and reasonable.

However, don’t forget that you will still be responsible for any internal plumbing and the section of the pipe leading to the private sewer.

The full effect of the transfer on householders’ responsibilities is provided on the DEFRA website, click here to view. The site also provides an illustration of the schematics of typical sewerage arrangements.

For further information,please contact our Real Estate team on 01244 305910.

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