London and Brighton both have extensive networks of sewers built in Victorian times but in many parts of the UK a property sale may be affected by the existence of private sewers and drains.
Before July 2011, a buyer’s residential conveyancing lawyer would have made his client aware of the responsibilities – and potential costs – of not being part of the public system prior to contracts being exchanged but new water industry regulations are coming into force.
Water companies will be taking over and adopting all private sewerage pipes from October 1 and property owners who have no objections need do nothing for this to be implemented. However, anyone who wants to keep their existing arrangements must appeal immediately.
Landowners with private pumping stations which move sewage from homes into the public network gradually will be transferred over the next five years.
Construction companies involved in the development of houses and flats are usually bound by a Section 104 agreement, which obliges the builder of a private sewer connecting a new estate to the public network to install pipework of a suitable size and standard before it is adopted by the relevant drainage authority.
Up until the start of the new regime in the autumn, existing agreements will continue but thereafter will come under the revised regulations.
Buyers who are at all concerned about sewerage arrangements relating to their homes should ask their property sales solicitor for advice and, if necessary, ask him or her to conduct a pre-contract drainage search.