A recent change in the law benefits home-owners say Sheffield Conveyancing Solicitors

Conveyancing Solicitors in Sheffield have until now always had to obtain details of the drainage connections for a home. This might seem unnecessary, as most people would assume that in city such as Sheffield, all homes are now going to be connected to the main sewer system.

However, Sheffield Property Lawyers find that many homes throughout the city are not connected directly to a public sewer. Instead they are connected to privately-owned drainage pipes, which may also serve several neighbouring properties before finally connecting to an adopted main. This arrangement is common with older terraced homes across South Yorkshire.

In March 2010, Sheffield Conveyancer Jaaine Intharajah acted for Ms T on the purchase of a terraced house on Keats Road, Sheffield, S6. She carried out a search with Yorkshire Water who supply water and sewerage disposal to homes in Sheffield. They supplied a plan showing the position of nearby adopted sewers, but not the location of any private pipes leading from the property to the main. There has been no general requirement to record the location of service connections to a property, so the route and extent of any private drains cannot be ascertained without a separate survey.

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As this home was an inner terraced building with no direct rear access, it was probable that it would be connected to a combined private system. Jaaine checked the copy of the title register supplied by the sellers' Conveyancing Solicitors in Sheffield, Graysons of  4-12 Paradise Square, Sheffield, S1 1TB, to find out if the property had appropriate legal rights to use any drains crossing neighbouring property. Such information is not always recorded in the property deeds, but fortunately in this case the Conveyance dating from the time when the house was first built included the necessary rights.

Expensive problems for owners should now be a thing of the past

Although problems with drains did not often arise, when they did it could be very expensive for owners whose homes were affected – not to mention the nuisance occurring when drains back up or leak. If there was a blockage or repairs were needed, the owner of the house where the problem was situated would have to arrange for work to be carried out. He could then try and recover the cost from all the other owners who shared the use of the private sewer.

All that has now changed, and from the 1st October 2011 the responsibility for shared drains serving Sheffield homes now vests in Yorkshire Water. This means that individual owners will generally only be liable for the repair of any drain-pipes within their property boundaries which just serve their own property and are not shared with adjoining properties. It also means that householders should no longer have to contribute to repair costs which an adjacent owner has incurred in respect of a shared sewer.

While this transfer of responsibilities will benefit many homeowners, it is likely that Conveyancing Solicitors in Sheffield will continue to carry out the usual water and drainage searches. This will be needed to obtain confirmation that a property is connected to main water and sewage services. Not all homes will be affected by the new arrangements, for instance the pumped drainage systems which serve some modern developments will not be taken over.  

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