New sewer leg­is­la­tion drains away doubt for home­own­ers

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY - John Rob­son been con­structed to the cor­rect stan­dard and are at present re­fus­ing to adopt them. At the end of 2010 the de­vel­oper com­pany went into re­ceiver­ship and have now aban­doned the de­vel­op­ment. How can this sit­u­a­tion be re­solved?

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.

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