WHO’S REALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR DRAINS?
Drains responsibility, despite the fact that they’re completely hidden from view, do fulfil an important function in society but who’s responsibility? See our drains page for a brief history. You need to stay informed when it comes to things like the legislation that governs them which, like all laws can change, which have important consequences for you; the property owner.
Change in the law
Something that you should be aware of, if you’re not already, is that as of the 1st October 2011 the laws about ownership of privately owned sewers and lateral drains changed dramatically. In an effort to save property owners the large single cost of having to repair sewers and lateral drains (the drains leading from your property to the water main) the government adopted them. The reasoning behind this being that although there would be a slight increase in water bills this cost would be used to offset the cost of responsibility for maintenance of the new, larger drainage network by the water utility companies.
The transfer of ownership has been scheduled for two stages; the first on 1/10/2011, which was the transfer of lateral drains and private sewers, and the second, which will be the transfer of private pumping stations, on 1/10/2016. If you are connected to a private pumping station chances are that you already know and typically your property would be on a small housing development, a remote property or a small business park. And, until October 2016, the responsibility for maintaining these pumping stations still lies with their owner.
Are you a homeowner?
If you are a homeowner who isn’t connected to a private pumping station, then good news! The water company will now repair any and all problems with shared and main drains but, and this is important, you are still responsible for having to initially locate the fault before contacting your local water authority. This can either be a pretty simple process, as quick as asking your neighbours (if you have them) if they’re experiencing drainage problems, or could be a bit more protracted and difficult if it requires professional inspection.
It’s also important that you know that you are still responsible for the maintenance of internal plumbing and the section of drain that connects your property to the adopted drains and sewers. The good news here is that problems in any section of drain that fall outside your property boundary will be taken care of by your local water authority, once you’ve notified them. When you’ve noticed that you’re experiencing problems with your sewer or drain your next step should be to narrow down and identify the fault. In most circumstances, to properly survey your drains, you’ll need to seek professional help. Once you have you should be notified there and then what the problem is and the best way for you to proceed.
The change in drain ownership legislation was meant to shoulder a burden previously held by property owners and to give uniform clarity regarding ownership and, for the most part, it has. It’s important to remember though that you are still responsible for identifying problems, maintenance of your section of drain and that the transfer will not fully complete until October 2016.
Public sewer/drain – responsibility of the water and sewerage company
Privately owned – responsibility of property owner