Conveyancing: The Blanket Adoption of all Private Sewers (England and Wales)

1st October heralded in the biggest change in the way that sewers and lateral drains are managed in the UK since 1937. A change that will have a significant impact on conveyancing transactions in England and Wales. From 1st October 2011 the ownership of 90% of ,all private sewers and lateral drains in England and Wales which, immediately before 1 July 2011 which connect to a public sewer, were adopted by the relevant local sewerage undertaking under the terms of the Water Industry (Schemes for Adoption of Private Sewers) Regulations 2011.

What doe this have to do with Conveyancing? -the importance of the Water & Drainage conveyancing search

A conveyancing search that a Conveyancer has to undertake when acting for a buyer in a conveyancing transaction is a Water & Drainage conveyancing search. There are two reasons for carrying out this conveyancing search: 1. Is to find out whether the Property being purchased in the conveyancing transaction is connected to the public sewer and mains water and 2. Whether there is part of the public sewer within the boundaries of the Property. The second reason for the Water & Drainage conveyancing search is the most important and will have the greatest impact on the conveyancing transaction when acting for the buyer in a conveyancing transaction this is because if the results of the Water & Drainage conveyancing search reveal the presence of part of the public sewer within the boundaries of the property this can restrict the development of the Property being conveyed.

It is an offence to build over a public sewer without the consent of the local sewerage undertaker in the form of a Build Over agreement. A conveyancer will always ask for a Build Over agreement if the Water & Drainage conveyancing search reveals that there is part of the public sewer within the boundaries of the Property which is being purchased by their client in the conveyancing transaction. Without a Build Over agreement the sewerage undertaker can remove any structure that is over the public sewer to gain access in the most serious of cases this can mean the removal of an extension or conservatory and in the least serious damage to an expensive tiled floor.

From the Conveyancers point of view out of all the conveyancing searches (except the Local Authority conveyancing search), the Water & Drainage conveyancing search can have the most impact. If the buyer in a conveyancing transaction for example, is buying a property due to its impressive conservatory or with a view to extending the Property -if the Water & Drainage conveyancing search result reveals the presence of part of the public sewer within the boundaries can be a deciding factor as to whether or not the conveyancing transaction will proceed further. Further once the conveyancing transaction has completed and the Property has been purchased, the buyer will not be happy if , for example, their conservatory has to be knocked down; this may result in a claim against the Conveyancer if it could be found that they weren't sufficiently diligent in their conduct of the conveyancing transaction especially if the presence of the public sewer within the boundaries was revealed in the results Water & Drainage conveyancing search.

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