Homeowners warned of liability for private sewers

Winchester City Council has issued a warning to householders that there could be "a time bomb ticking under their home."

The warning from the City Council's Director of Health and Housing, Bob Merrett, comes after 15 residents of Crofton Way, Swanmore, are faced with a collective bill of around £60,000 to repair the private sewer laid down when their homes were built in the 1970's.

"The repair of private sewers is cropping up more and more often," Mr Merrett told Cabinet members yesterday (Wednesday 19 May).

He said that the majority of properties were connected to a private sewer of some sort before they connected to a public sewer, often some distance away. "In many cases the private sewers run under paths, gardens and buildings. When it comes to repair, if it involves excavation then sometimes it can be complicated, very disruptive and expensive.

"In-between their house drain and the public sewer, the householder is potentially liable for all or a share of the cost of any repairs," he added.

The private sewer to houses in Crofton Way has had repeated blockages, and camera surveys revealed a number of defects along the length of the pipe, including a collapse and pipe cracking.

To remedy the situation and eliminate the potential for further blockages and overflows, the Council served notice on all 15 properties, asking them to repair or replace the sewer. Nothing was done and the Council has the power to carry out the works in default and recharge the property owners.

Local residents attended a public meeting in April and asked the Council to carry out the work on their behalf and recharge them. Work is expected to start in the next few weeks.