Drainage and Water Searches: Explained

Following on from last week where we looked at the Local Authority Search, another search that will be carried out during the majority of purchase transactions is the Drainage and Water Search. The style of search will vary amongst search provider companies, however the extent of the enquiries made is the same.

Let’s look at some of the important issues which are identified by the Drainage and Water Search.

Drainage to a public sewer

Your solicitor needs to check that foul water and surface water drains to a public sewer. If the drains are not connected to a public sewer, the homeowner will deal with the water and drainage privately and you will need the seller to evidence how this is done and the cost of upkeep and disposal.

If the property has a private means of drainage and sewerage (e.g. on farmland or isolated properties), there may be a septic tank or cesspool for sewerage, and a soakaway or private watercourse for surface water. As a purchaser, you will need to consider whether you are happy to maintain such systems.

If the surface water drains to a public sewer, the search should indicate how much this costs per year.

Public sewers in the boundaries

The search will indicate whether there are public sewers, mains or drains within the boundary of the property.

If there are sewers, mains or drains within the boundary of the property:

• and the property has been built since 1 July 2011, it will be the householder’s responsibility to maintain them. You may therefore want to inspect the condition of any sewers, mains or drains in the property before inheriting the responsibility.

• even if your property was built prior to 2011, the utility company may have rights to access the pipes and therefore they should not be built over so not to cause obstruction when repairing or maintaining.

If there is a public sewer, main or drain pipe running through the property boundary, your solicitor should check with the seller that it has not been built over or, if it has, there is the adequate legal paperwork in place to allow the build over.

Is the property connected to mains water?

The search will confirm whether the property is connected to the water mains and the classification of the water. This will show whether the water is soft or hard in the area.

Who provides the water and sewerage services?

This will indicate the Water Authority who you can contact to confirm you have moved into the Property and discuss payment options with.

How is the water charged?

Finally, the search will indicate whether the property is charged by a rateable value or a water meter within the property. This is particularly important as a purchaser as it will affect the cost of your water usage.

The Drainage and Water search may be particularly difficult to interpret to an individual purchaser particularly if you have not purchased a property before. Your solicitor is on hand to ensure that any issues identified in any of the searches are brought to your attention and resolved, if possible, with the seller.

If you are thinking of purchasing a property or you are selling a property which you believe to have an issue highlighted above and would like further advice, contact our specialist residential conveyancing team today on 0113 244 9931.

Next week: Environmental Search explained

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