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Private Sewers: Soon; Bog Standard!

View profile for Paul Hajek
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Anyone who has bought a new property on a residential development in the last 30 years or so will know (if they had been paying attention to their Conveyancing Solicitor) that are private sewers and drains which run under their property and their neighbours before normally discharging into the nearest public sewer

However, new rules will apply if Parliament passes legislation this summer, transferring ownership of private sewers into public ownership.

From 1st October 2011, the proposal is that the majority of sewers and drains which are in private ownership will automatically become the responsibility of a water company.

All sewers laid prior to 1937 are already the responsibility of the relevant water companies.

Some exceptions will apply and there will be transitional provisions e.g. a development with private pumping station will transfer over a 5 year period.

What will this mean for homeowners?

The most obvious effect will be a positive one. There should a reduced potential liability for homeowners who will now just be responsible for the drains within the boundary of their property.

What homeowners will need to bear in mind :


At present you need the consent of the Water Company if you wish to build or develop near a public sewer.

With most sewers public after 1st October, there will be an increase in homeowners applying to their water company for permission to alter or extend their properties.

Incomplete Records:

Obviously, it will be quite a while for the mapping the locations of all the newly acquired public sewers

New Access Rights for Water Companies:

Water companies will have statutory rights to go on to your property if repair or replacement of sewers and drains is necessary

If you have any specific enquires please consult your Conveyancing Solicitor or feel free to contact us.

And if your water divining skills have been under utilised of late, you could do worse than to offer your services to your local water company to assist it in locating the unrecorded miles and miles of private sewers and drains.