Responsibility for pipework

Having a good understanding what your responsibility is in your business is important. Knowing when you have to act can save you money if you were to ever have a leak on your property.

Water Pipes

The responsibility for the pipework that supplies clean water is shared between property owners and water companies, also referred to as the wholesaler.

Your water company will keep up to date maps of sewers and water mains for which they are responsible. They keep these regularly serviced to ensure the efficient supply your business with clean water and take away waste. Most pipes within an property boundary are the property owner’s responsibility to maintain. 

There are three different types of water pipes.

Water mains are the large company pipes that distribute water around the network. These are the responsibility of the water company (wholesaler).

The pipes that carry water between the water mains and the boundary of private property are known as communication pipes. If a stop-tap has been fitted, this will normally mark the end of pipework that is the responsibility of the wholesaler. It’s important to know that not all properties will have their own stop-tap in the footpath but where one has been fitted, this is normally the responsibility of the wholesaler to maintain.

Supply pipes are the smaller pipes that carry water from wholesale pipework into the property. Stop-taps along the length of the supply pipe, and any water fittings, are the property owner’s responsibility to maintain.

Supply pipe repairs

The property owner is responsible for the drains, water pipes and plumbing fixtures on your property. You are also responsible for ensuring that the plumbing in your property conforms to the required standards. 

You must maintain the supply pipes that are your responsibility. This includes leak detection, repairs and replacement. 

Each wholesaler has a code of practice which sets out how they address any leakage from supply pipes.

If you have a water meter and your bill was abnormally high because of leakage that has since been repaired, you may be able to claim an allowance for the cost of water lost. You should contact your water retailer for more information.

If your wholesaler has recorded leakage in your area but cannot source the leak to their pipes, they may issue a legal notice under the Water Industry Act 1991 to inform you of a potential leak and your legal requirement to fix it. This notice will advise you of timescales. If you do not fix the problems in the time allowed, the wholesaler can carry out the works and pass on the costs to you.

The wholesaler is responsible for the maintenance of communication pipes and mains which includes leak detection, repairs and replacement where necessary.