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Public sewerage

This advice applies to Scotland

This information applies to Scotland only.

On this page you can find out who provides public sewerage, how to get connected or sort a blockage and who is responsible for flooding and other problems with sewerage works.

Who provides sewerage services

Scottish Water provides sewerage services to most households in Scotland.

Scottish Water has a duty to maintain public sewers and drains and to deal with sewage.

Most people pay for using the sewerage system alongside their council tax.

If you're not connected to the public sewerage system, it's likely you are using a septic tank instead. Read more about septic tanks.

Getting connected to the public sewerage system

Whether you own or rent your property, you have a right to be connected to public sewers.

You might connect to the public sewers so you can stop using a septic tank. Scottish Water is responsible for taking the drains to a point where you can connect to the public drains and sewers. 

You can find out more about how to connect to the public sewerage system on the Scottish Water website

In remote areas, Scottish Water might not connect your property to a public sewer if it would cost too much to put in the piping. You can find out how to appeal to the Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals. 

Connecting a new property

If you're building a new property, you need to get advice from your architect or surveyor about any problems with your drainage pipes joining up to the public sewer.

If you're unhappy about what's been done to connect you to the public drainage system, you may need to complain to the builder or architect.

Dealing with blockages and leaks

Scottish Water is responsible for maintaining and repairing public sewers. Public sewers start at the point where the homeowner's drains connect to the main sewer. If there's a leak or damage to a public sewer, you should contact Scottish Water.

Homeowners and landlords are responsible for household waste pipes up to where they connect with the public sewer. The connection is normally at the boundary of the property.

If there's a blockage, a leak or a problem with waste pipes that are the landlord or homeowner's responsibility, they'll have to arrange and pay for any repairs.

Scottish Water can examine your drainage systems to make sure they're adequate and to inspect, maintain or repair the sewer. They have the right to enter your private property to do so. Scottish Water can order repairs and recover the costs from the homeowner.

Scottish Water will normally warn you if they need access to your home or garden. If you refuse to allow them to enter, they can get a warrant from a Justice of the Peace and enter after 24 hours' notice.

Shared repairs to waste pipes

In some properties, for example flats, some pipes are shared by the owners of the properties. If the pipes are shared, the owners are jointly responsible for any repairs or maintenance. There's more information about responsibility for pipes on the Scottish Water website.

If you share some of the piping with other property owners, for example in a tenement, the rules about how to pay for repairs should be set out in your title deeds. If you have difficulty working out who should pay for the repair, you may need help from a solicitor to sort out the bill. You can read more about sorting out neighbour disputes.

Sewer flooding

If your sewer pipe floods, your building insurance policy will normally cover the costs of damage caused by sewer flooding. You may also be able to claim compensation from Scottish Water if they've been negligent.

If the flood is from the pipes that are your responsibility, you won't be able to claim from Scottish Water.

If the sewerage is leaking from a drain cover on your property, this will serve more than your property so is likely to be the responsibility of Scottish Water.

If you don't have building insurance to cover damage caused by a leak in pipes for which you're responsible, you're likely to have to pay this yourself.

Smells from wastewater treatment works

Scottish Water has a specific legal duty to reduce smells from wastewater treatment works. 

You can complain about odours directly to Scottish Water or your local council. Your local council's environmental health department is responsible for monitoring how Scottish Water handles any complaints. If Scottish Water doesn't resolve the problem, the local authority can take action with an enforcement notice.

Grants for domestic sewage improvements

If you own your own home or you're a tenant of a private landlord, the local authority may be able to help you improve your sewer piping under its scheme of assistance for house repairs and adaptations. The conditions for getting a grant will depend on what the problem is, or whether you're disabled and the house needs to be adapted. You should contact your local authority to find out what's available in your area.

Scottish Water's code of practice

Scottish Water has a code of practice Google Drive with more information about public sewerage and how to solve problems relating to it.

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