New sewer legislation drains away doubt for homeowners
Answer: It seems the developer did enter into the correct Section 104 adoption agreement with Yorkshire Water under the Water Industry Act (1991). This is a very important point and one you should verify with the conveyancer who dealt with your purchase.
Currently, Yorkshire Water are able to refuse to adopt the sewers if they have not been constructed to the laid down specification approved as part of the planning consents and the National House Builder Council inspections.
However, ownership of private sewers and lateral drains and the responsibility to maintain them will change from October 1 this year. Currently, sewers are the responsibility of various owners as newly laid sewers remain private until or unless the homeowner or developer request the relevant water company adopt them.
Drains (sewers) are defined as “disposal pipes serving a single property” and lateral drains are defined as “any section of the drain extending beyond the property boundary”. The vast majority of these are currently private which is the case with the drains serving the 18 properties forming the development comprising your property.
The regulations relating to the transfer of the drains into public ownership of the relevant water companies were presented to Parliament on April 26 2011 and came into force on July 1.
Yorkshire Water has recently sent out a circular letter to this effect. With effect from October 1, the majority of drains (sewers) and lateral drains will transfer into public ownership and will then be the responsibility of the relevant water company.
Water companies are working with developers and local councils to add known sewer networks to their current records. However, there are over 200,000 kilometres of private sewers and lateral drains that are unadopted. Accordingly the process of updating the water authority adoption records following implementation of the change in legislation and ownership will be a long process.
I am making an assumption that the sewers serving the 18 properties on your development will connect to the mains adopted sewer. This is a reasonable assumption bearing in mind the number of properties on the development.
The new legislation is clear. Private sewers connected to an existing public sewerage system currently subject to an existing Section 104 adoption agreement will be automatically adopted as from October 1 regardless of their current stage in the adoption process and the standard to which they were built.
Providing the above connection criteria is correct and there is a valid Section 104 adoption agreement in place then it is my view that as from October1 this year Yorkshire Water will be responsible for the sewers serving your development.
It follows that if remedial works are required they will be the responsibility of Yorkshire Water at their cost. Leeds City Council and NHBC will have made inspections during the construction of the property. In the absence of the new legislation your problem would have to be directed back to these bodies for their comments.