Change of Ownership to Private Sewers

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Many property owners were unaware that prior to 1 October 2011 they owned, and had the legal responsibility for maintaining and cleaning the private sewers and lateral drains (sewers and drains serving more than one property) connecting their property to the public sewers.  This was causing a lot of confusion and disputes between neighbours as to who should be responsible when problems arose with their drainage systems.

The Government wanted to simplify the position and, as such, passed legislation the effect of which was to automatically transfer the ownership (and thereby the responsibility for maintenance and cleansing) of these private sewers and lateral drains to the sewerage authority.  The automatic transfer took place on 1 October 2011.

The drawback to this is that the sewerage authorities will be increasing their charges in order to fund their new maintenance obligations for thousands of extra miles of sewers.

It is important for home owners to note, however, that private drains (drains connecting a single property to the main sewer) are still in the ownership of the property owner.  As such, the property owner is still responsible for the maintenance and cleaning of any private drain serving solely their property and not any others.

For more information on this and other property related issues please contact Darren Edwards, Associate Solicitor at Bennett Griffin LLP on 01903 706971 or