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Dealing with sewer flooding

If a public sewer floods, causing damage to your property, you may be entitled to compensation from the water company. You should let the company know you've been affected by the flooding as soon as possible.

You may also need to make a claim on your buildings insurance.

Read this page to find out more about when you're entitled to compensation from the water company and how much you can get.

When does a water company have to pay compensation?

If your property is damaged by sewer flooding, you are entitled to a refund of your sewerage charges – although there are some exceptions to this rule. Compensation is  payable under the guaranteed standards scheme set out by the industry regulator Ofwat.

Internal damage to your property

If there's internal damage to your property, you're entitled to an automatic refund of your annual sewerage charge. The minimum you should get is £150, but you can be paid up to a maximum of £1000.  

If the refund isn't made within 20 working days of the flooding, you're entitled to a further £20 payment for each incident of flooding.

When does a water company not have to pay compensation for flooding inside your property?

There are some circumstances where a water company doesn't have to make an automatic refund of your sewerage charges. This is when flooding was caused by:

  • exceptional weather conditions
  • industrial action by the company’s employees
  • your own actions
  • a problem or blockage in your own drains or sewers.

If a water company has no way of  knowing you were affected by the flooding, you won't get an automatic refund. Instead, you'll be expected to claim the refund back from the water company. If you don't claim your refund within three months of the flooding, the water company doesn't have to give it to you.

If your property is damaged by flooding from a public sewer, it's probably advisable to contact your water company and let them know as soon as possible.

Flooding to outside land

If the flooding only affects your outside land or an outbuilding, you're entitled to a refund of fifty per cent of the annual sewerage charges – from a minimum payment of £75 up to a maximum of £500.

If you want to make a claim for flooding to outside land, you must make a claim to the water company within three months of the incident.

If the refund isn't made within 20 working days of the water company getting your claim, you're entitled to a further £20 payment for each incident of flooding.

To get compensation for flooding to outside land, you will need  to show you've suffered substantial damage.

In deciding whether you've suffered enough damage to pay compensation, the water company must take into account:

  • what areas of your land or property were affected
  • how long the flooding lasted
  • whether the flooding prevented you getting onto your land or property or from using it.

When does a water company not have to pay compensation for flooding to outside land?

There are some circumstances where a water company doesn't have to compensate you for flooding to outside land. This is when you've already been given compensation for internal damage for the same incident. It's also when the flooding was caused by:

  • exceptional weather conditions
  • industrial action by the company’s employees
  • your own actions
  • a problem or blockage in your own drains or sewers.

Water companies must follow a range of standards, set out by Ofwat, about things like appointments, account queries and interruption to water supply. If a company doesn't stick to these standards, you may be entitled to compensation.

For more about these standards, see Claiming compensation from your water company.

Claiming on your building insurance

If the compensation you get from the water company isn't enough to cover the full costs of the damage to your property, you may be able to make a claim on  your building insurance policy.

Next steps

Other useful information

  • For more information about the guaranteed standards and the compensation you're entitled to if your water company doesn't keep to the standards, see OFWAT’s Guaranteed standards scheme PDF which all water companies in England and Wales must follow.
  • To find out which water company supplies your  area, go to  the Consumer Council for Water's website at: www.ccwater.org.uk.
  • For more help with water issues, go to the Consumer Council for Water's website at: www.ccwater.org.uk.
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