Sewer Ownership Is Changing
On 1 October 2011, ownership of all private sewers and lateral drains in England and Wales will transfer automatically from land owners to water and sewerage companies.
Currently, sewers and lateral drains are either publicly or privately maintained. If they are publicly maintained, the local water and sewerage company is responsible for repairs and maintenance. All customers pay towards the upkeep of publicly maintained sewers and drains but some also have private sewers and drains to maintain. These may include pipes that go beyond the boundary of their own property. Land owners are often unaware that they are responsible for these pipes until problems occur, such as unexpected repair bills and disputes with neighbouring landowners regarding ownership.
In future, the cost of the additional work that water and sewerage companies are taking on will be spread among all customers. The Government currently estimates that the sewerage element of water bills will go up between £3 and £14 per customer per year. The changes will benefit those landowners currently responsible for private sewers and lateral drains as they will not have to pay the much higher costs of repairing drains or clearing blockages. Only private drains will remain the responsibility of the homeowner.
However, some land owners may wish to maintain their ownership and control of private sewers. For example, the transfer may interfere with their redevelopment plans. Water companies will have a right to access any sewers or lateral drains on private property, and their consent would be required before building on top of them. Land owners may appeal on grounds that the transfer would be “seriously detrimental to their interests”. The water companies must serve notice of proposed transfers on the land owners, or publish the notice in local newspapers. Property owners must then appeal within 2 months of the notification.
BlocMan has evaluated how this change will impact the residential estates and blocks of flats it manages in Kent and Sussex. If your freehold was impacted then we would have written to you.
Find out more at Southern Water.
• Sewers are the shared pipes that take foul sewage and surface water away from more than one property into public sewers.
• 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.
• Private Drains are pipes serving a single property, within the boundary of that property
BlocMan has evaluated how this change will impact the residential estates and blocks of flats it manages in Kent and Sussex.