The transfer of private sewers and lateral drains

As of 1 October 2011 the ten water and sewerage companies in England and Wales automatically became responsible for privately owned sewers and lateral drains located outside property owners’ boundaries. These pipes were previously the responsibility of the owners of the properties they are connected to. 

The idea behind this government initiative is to relieve property owners of responsibility for repair and maintenance from property owners, who can face unexpected and potentially expensive bills or complex ownership issues when problems occur with these pipes. 

However, it’s important to remember that property owners still retain the ownership and therefore the responsibility of the drain serving their property that is located within their boundary. 

What is a private sewer?

A sewer is a pipe that carries waste water from more than one property. Sewers often run along several properties or towards the road. Most are owned and cared for by the local water company. 

Some groups of properties are connected to private sewers. Before 1 October 2011 these sewers were the responsibility of the owners or occupiers of the properties connected to them. The water and sewerage companies are now responsible for maintaining these. 

What is a lateral drain?

A drain is a pipe that carries waste water away from a single property. Drains belong to the owner of the property they are connected to. A drain is the property owner’s responsibility until it connects to either someone else’s drain or a sewer. Nearly every property is connected to its own private drains. The property owner is responsible for their repair and maintenance. However, some properties – such as apartment blocks – have shared drains. Owners of these properties are jointly responsible for their drains. 

A lateral drain is the part of a drain which lies outside the property boundary. In some cases these can be located under someone else’s land or a road. Before 1 October 2011 lateral drains were the responsibility of the individual property owner they serve. 

On 1 October 2011 private sewers and lateral drains were automatically transferred to the water and sewerage companies. The local water and sewerage company is now responsible for the maintenance and repairs to these pipes.


1 Comment

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One response to “The transfer of private sewers and lateral drains

  1. Interesting post, I am so glad that I have visited your site. Really useful information!

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