News & insights

news: 17 November 2017

Conveyancing Check List: Five ways your residential property clients are affected by the changes to sewerage legislation.

The law regarding sewerage legislation has changed. Thames Water Property Searches Account Manager Jason Harper explains why conveyancers should be made aware of this change in legislation.

1: The new sewerage system is much easier to understand 

The last transfer of private sewers happened under the Public Health Act 1936. Since then, thousands of miles of sewers have remained in private hands – out of the control of water utility companies who have had no knowledge of their condition.

The Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) decided that it would be easier and clearer for homeowners if utility undertakers, such as Thames Water, took on responsibility and ownership of all the private sewers that drain into the public system. This transfer took place on 1 October 2011. 

It’s a much simpler system, which should mean far less stress for homeowners who are no longer responsible for their upkeep.

2: Homeowners now have less to worry about

A homeowner is still responsible for the pipes within their property boundaries if they only serve the one property. 

However, since the transfer, homeowners are no longer responsible for sewers that drain more than one property or that sit outside the boundaries of their property (e.g. under pavements or roads).

Conveyancers are advised to make sure that clients are clear which pipes have been transferred and which are still their responsibility. This information will show up on an official CON29DW search.

There’s a great video on the Thames Water website that explains the transfer in greater detail: https://www.thameswater.co.uk/Help-and-Advice/Drains-and-Sewers/Transfer-of-Private-Sewers/How-are-you-affected.

3: The new system protects homeowners from large repair bills

Under the previous system, if something went wrong with a private sewer, the costs to the property owner could run into thousands of pounds. 

Instead, a small annual charge – estimated at between £3 - £14 a year – is now added to every homeowner’s bill to cover the ongoing maintenance work.

4: The transfer also includes private pumping stations 

Before the transfer, property owners using a pumping station were responsible for the entire sewer, pipes and pumping station, right up to the point where it connects with the public sewer.

As of 1 October 2016, water utility companies have taken ownership of all private pumping stations that drain two or more properties or if they lie outside the boundary of the property they serve. Again, this should make things much simpler for homeowners.

5: To benefit from the changes, clients must register their private pumping stations 

Conveyancers should advise clients to contact the water company that deals with their sewerage to make sure that their private pumping station is registered.

Property owners should also be aware that water utility companies will need 24/7 access to any private pumping station on their land.

For more information on any of the above points visit: www.thameswater.co.uk/Help-and-Advice/Drains-and-Sewers/Transfer-of-Private-Sewers

If you would like Jason to visit your office and present a free accredited CPD on the Private Sewer Transfer, please email: jason.harper@thameswater.co.uk

Comprehensive drainage and sewer reports are easily obtained from Thames Water Property Searches. For more information call our Customer Experience Team on:0845 070 9148 or visit: www.thameswater-propertysearches.co.uk


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