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Property purchasers beware – work out the water works before you buy

02nd November 2018

Writing in this column we have previously recommended everyone looking to acquire a property should undertake certain searches with the relevant authorities – because not all matters are apparent simply from a review of legal title. One of the most important searches is a water and drainage search, which can be undertaken with the water authority that serves the property’s local area.

The results of this type of search will show whether the property you are considering is connected to the authority’s water supply or mains drainage and locate the property’s mains connection. You will also discover whether any public sewers lie within the property boundary and uncover any further supply or drainage issues that may restrict any intended development – it is always a good idea to conduct this search if you are planning to make any structural changes to your newly-acquired property.

Whether you are considering buying or renting a property, mains connection details are also important. If the water and drainage search reveals that the property is not connected to mains drainage, your legal advisors will be able to raise the appropriate enquiries with the seller or your prospective landlord to establish how and where drainage and surface water drains if not directed to a public sewer. For instance, you will want to know up-front if there is a cesspit at the property, or whether flooding could be a problem if no alternative drainage arrangements are in place to dispose of surface water.

But what happens if no water supply is revealed? In cases such as this, it may be necessary to agree additional rights in order for the property to be connected to the public supply, either directly or perhaps via a neighbouring property, using a formal deed of easement. You would not want to purchase a property without such supply – after all, there is no guarantee that a neighbouring owner would agree to grant you, as the property’s new owner, a right to connect into their supply. This unresolved matter could hinder your use or development of the property and, no doubt, would affect you financially – especially if your prospective neighbour asks for a financial incentive to agree an easement.

A water and drainage search typically costs between £120 and £150 plus VAT but many prospective buyers or tenants will agree that it is not money down the drain…

For more information about property law, contact the George Ide team on 01243 786668 or email us on info@georgeide.co.uk.

Aimee Ellery. Solicitor, commercial property department.


Business, Commercial Property, General, George Ide, News, Residential Property Conveyancing
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