In our June alert we advised that on 1 October this year ownership of some private sewers and lateral drains will be transferred to water companies – to view our previous alert please click here.
Under the relevant regulations, a drain or sewer within a "curtilage" and serving only that "curtilage", remains the responsibility of the property owner and ownership will not be transferred. At the time of our previous alert it was not clear how to interpret the term "curtilage". However, the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has now issued guidance, in which it states that: "a single curtilage may contain a number of individual properties under common ownership (such as a shopping mall) or with separate lease or other arrangements (such as some commercial estates) but which have common drainage arrangements by virtue, for example, of the site's freehold management. Such sites should be regarded as having their own internally managed drainage which would not be regarded as private sewers for transfer since the site itself comprises a single curtilage."
The guidance gives examples of sites which may be deemed to be a single property including:
- a hotel/boarding house;
- an office or commercial building;
- an industrial, business, retail or science park;
- a school or university campus and
- a hospital or other medical facility.
For a copy of DEFRA's guidance visit http://www.defra.gov.uk/publications/2011/07/28/pb13601-private-sewers/. For further information please get in touch with your usual contact in the Real Estate team at Stevens & Bolton LLP.