Water leak responsibility – who is responsible for which pipes?

When a water leak occurs, there is often some confusion over who is responsible for the repair and maintenance of the pipe involved
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When water supply pipes under a property begin to leak, there can often be a lot of confusion surrounding whose responsibility it is to repair the problem.

Does it fall to the homeowner to fix pipes? Or is leak repair the responsibility of the water company?

The answer is that both homeowner and water supplier are responsible – depending on where exactly the leak has occurred.

Who is responsible for a leaking pipe on my property?

When a leaking pipe is within the boundary of a property, then it is the responsibility of the homeowner to get it repaired.

Generally, the boundary of a property is considered to be the external stop tap. Any pipes which connect to your house from the stop tap are therefore your responsibility. This will often include the supply pipe buried under your garden or driveway.

When a pipe begins to leak which is your responsibility, then you should take steps as soon as possible to make a repair. Depending on the severity of the leak and its location, you may be able to fix it yourself using a SylWrap Pipe Repair Kit.

These kits are easy to use with no formal training required. You simply use the products as instructed to seal and then wrap the pipe for a permanent repair.

Should a DIY repair not be possible, then you should seek the services of an approved plumber to come and take a look at the problem.

Who is responsible for a leaking pipe on public land?

Any pipes which are beyond your property’s external stop tap and on public land are the responsibility of your water company to maintain and repair when they leak. This includes the external stop tap itself.

Should there be any problem with your water supply from the public network, then you should contact your water company immediately.

Each water supplier has a responsibility to save water and repair leaks, especially in the wake of Ofwat’s PR19 document which demanded that companies cut leaks by 16% over the course of the next five years.

Water companies are also responsible for any water meters which you may have installed, whether they are internal or external.

Who is responsible for leaking pipes on rented properties?

If you rent your home, then your landlord or letting agent may be responsible for the upkeep of pipes. You should check your tenancy agreement or speak to your letting agent of landlord for confirmation.

Who is responsible for leaking pipes on shared properties?

Some properties will find themselves on a shared supply. If you live in a block of flats or on a caravan park, then you may have a private supply line which supplies many properties after its connection to the public main.

When this is the case, whoever owns the property is responsible for the supply line. If you live on an estate with multiple dwellings all owned privately, then it is the shared responsibility of all the owners to maintain and repair the pipework supplying their homes. If the dwellings on the site are rented, then it will be down to the landlord.

Council houses and large housing estates were traditionally built with one large supply pipe connecting to the public network which then ran along the back of homes, feeding each one individually. This counts as a shared supply line which means there is joint responsibility for the large pipe between those connected to it.

Occupants of terraced or semi-detached houses may also find themselves on a joint supply line alongside their neighbours from the public main. Again, all the properties that share a connection to the supply line are responsible for its upkeep.

Whether you share your supply line will often be dictated by the age of your home. Terraced houses from the Victorian era and semi-detached properties built before 1940 will usually share one supply line.

Instances when pipe repair is a joint responsibility between homeowner and supplier

There are some instances when pipe repair and maintenance becomes a joint venture between homeowner and water companies.

One example of this is when a homeowner decides to replace lead pipes within their property. In this instance, if you accept responsibility for the work, then your water company must match that by replacing any public supply pipes which connect to your property and are also made of lead.

If you are planning on undertaking any pipe repair or replacement work, it is therefore worth speaking to your water company before doing so.

They will be able to offer guidance and, in some instances, help with the repair. Grants may also be available for those on low income.

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