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Andy Morley

Shared Water Supply Problems

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I own two mid-terrace properties divided into 4 flats, on either side of my flats there are four other properties, some also subdivided - 7 further households in total plus my four.  I have a single stopcock and water supply for all my flats and three other freeholds (5 households) piggy-back off my supply.  The pipework traversing my land is a mix of lead, copper and plastic, all bodged together and I've got a leak - not the first.  What is the legal position - surely there should be a single supply for each flat?  Severn Trent is the water company, what if I notify them and the other property owners that since there is no wayleave agreement between us, they have 3 months to arrange a direct supply for their properties after which I will cap off the pipe through my land?  That would leave me with one supply for my four flats but without the problem of other households complaining when I have to turn the water off. Does anyone here have any experience of shared water issues?  Thanks, A.M.

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I think you need a solicitor to sort this out but I can tell you (free of charge) you are not permitted to cap-off or stop water supplies to other properties without legal authority to do so and from what you have said it may be difficult to get that authority.

Severn Trent should be able to advise you as well on the best course of action but you could end up with a big invoice once they are aware of your ancient pipe work set up.

All lead pipework should have been replaced by now with the current water by-law pipework for your area which is normal polypropylene type blue or black tube.

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This will not be cheap. We manage the water supply for 11 bunglelows on a small estate. The builders in their wisdom when they were built only provided one supply therefore only one bill that has to be split 11 ways and the funds collected from the owners.

It has been investigated a couple of times over the years for the owners to have their own supply and meter but was very costly per property. (I cant remember the figure) 

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How did you get into this situation ?......

* Did you not realise when buying the properties that the present water supply arrangement was likely to be problematic ?

* Did your solicitor not point out the difficulties with the water supply ? or

* Was the current situation not highlighted to you prior to purchase ?

Anything that is not normal should ring alarm bells and suggest further investigation is required. Presumably it will seriously affect the resale value of any of the properties affected.

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Thanks for replies from everyone.  In response to questions about the past/ acquisition of the property, our solicitors did not highlight this issue as far as I am aware. In any case we are where we are.

Does anyone know if I can ask the other property owners to contribute to the cost of replacing the supply across my land, given that all their water flows through my pipework and has undoubtedly contributed to the wear and tear that caused this old lead pipe to split?  I've dug it up, wrapped it round with Denzo and jubilee clips but obviously it needs fixed.

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My questions about your knowledge of the water supply situation prior to your purchase......which you have brushed over...... are just as important as your questions. Buyers are not required to blindly purchase or be misled as to what  they are buying. Currently the questionaires that sellers are required to complete include specific questions about utility supplies, responsibility, routes of pipes, any historical issues etc etc. As your solicitor did not point out the unusual situation then it begs the question......did your seller answer correctly ......If not you may have a case for claiming costs from them. You will need to get copies of those questionnaires and legal advice depending on their contents.

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 No idea but, I wouldn't let that stop me from taking legal action against a seller should it become evident that they have misrepresented the situation. If all else fails there is the small claims court.....where you can add the court costs to the claim. 

I'm aware that many sellers will answer those questionaires in a non committal way e.g.  'not known' or ' not to my knowledge' ........but this situation would clearly be known by any owner of your property, so surely by not answering a question that they would know the answer to is misleading the buyer. 

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