Drains and Sewers – who’s responsible?

Many homeowners falsely believe the drains and sewers (including any manhole covers) within their property are the responsibility of the local council or water authority.

Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth and many homeowners have discovered the painful truth by incurring large bills for remedial works. This is one of the reasons why water companies in particular, are always writing to introduce you to the benefits of insuring such pipework and infrastructure under your gardens, driveways and even houses. At present, homeowners are responsible for drains and sewers up to the point where they join the public sewers (usually under roads ).

However, the question of ‘ownership’ is about to change. From April 1st 2011, ownership will start transferring over to the relevant water authority. The hand over is due around this October.

The downside is the likelihood that sewage elements of water bills will increase to cover the cost of repairs needed to carry out future improvements – analysts believe the figure could be anywhere between £3 and £14 a year.

The change also means that water companies and their agents will have a right of way to access drains etc for maintenance works, so don’t go building over any manhole covers or buried pipes.

photo credit: horia varlan

Note: This article first appeared in our home owner newsletter dated 4th April 2011. Click here to read our full newsletter.

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