Transfer of private sewers

Property owners are no longer responsible for certain sewer pipes that connect their homes to public sewers.

On 1 October 2011, legislation introduced by the government transferred responsibility for private sewers and lateral drains to Southern Water –providing clear ownership and better long-term maintenance for the sewer network.

Does this benefit customers?


Property owners were often unaware that they were responsible for these pipes until they faced a repair bill, causing confusion and leading to disputes between neighbours.

The private sewer transfer brings peace of mind on maintenance for these sections of pipe, and clarity on ownership.

Property owners do not need to do anything, as the transfer happened automatically on 1 October 2011.

We set up a reactive sewer team to manage our work on the transferred pipes:

What exactly changed?

Property owners were responsible for private sewers and lateral drains, which are the sections of sewer pipe or drain which are shared with another person’s property, or run through another person’s land. 

There are now only public sewers (owned and maintained by the sewerage companies) and private drains (the responsibility of property owners).

Our guide to the changes

We have created a film which explains the changes and the background to them, and animations which show the changes for each of the main property types, based on the latest available government guidance.

Is there anything that hasn't transferred?

Yes. Privately-owned septic tanks and cesspits and their connecting pipework, large multi-occupier commercial sites, and sewers that carry water directly to a watercourse will not transfer.

Private pumping stations will not be transferred immediately, but will transfer by October 2016.

This will give sewerage companies time to find and survey all these stations, and to work out what works are required to enable them to be adopted.

To aid the adoption process, if you are responsible for – or are served by – a private pumping station, we would be grateful if you could complete our data collection form.

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