Water leaks and pipes
This information applies to Scotland only
On this page you can find out who has responsibility for water pipes and fixing leaks. There is also information about what happens if water is wasted because of a leak that does not get repaired. There are more details about all of these problems and helpful contact numbers at www.scottishwater.co.uk.
Water pipes and who’s responsible
When you own your home you are responsible for all the pipes in the house and the pipes that go to the boundary of your property to join up with the stop-cock for the mains pipe. If you have a leak in your pipes you have to fix it.
If you are in a tenement property where the outer water piping is shared you all share the responsibility for the maintenance of the pipes. If there is a leak you have to share the cost according to the rules that apply from title deeds or the alternative statutory tenement management scheme rules.
If there is a leak in the mains pipes it is Scottish Water who has to fix it. This is because the mains pipes bringing the supply to your property are the responsibility of Scottish Water up to the boundary with your property.
If you are a tenant and there is a water leak from pipes in the property you rent you have to get the home owner/landlord to fix it. If they fail to repair it properly and there is a risk to your health or ability to live in the property you can contact the water authority yourself.
Most private landlords are legally bound by a standard called the 'repairing standard'. If the water pipes and installations are not kept in proper repair the tenant can report the landlord to the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber). If the repairing standard does not cover your tenancy, the 'tolerable standard' may apply.
- More about resolving disputes relating to repairs and the repairing standard
- More about the tolerable standard
If you don’t repair water pipes when there is a leak and you are responsible for the pipes that are leaking Scottish Water can come and fix any pipes that are accessible, if water is being wasted. It will send you the bill for the repair.
If you don’t fix a water pipe that you have responsibility for and water is being wasted but Scottish Water need access to fix it you will get a warning letter 24 hours before it intends to come. If you refuse to give Scottish Water access to fix the water pipe it can get a warrant from a Justice of the Peace to force entry after 24 hours to repair it.
Cold weather problems
In severe winters it is sensible to take some precautions to make sure your home, holiday home or business does not get burst pipes. Scottish Water has put together a 'winter code' for protecting pipes. The main message it provides is that you should heat, insulate and protect your pipes. There is more information at www.scottishwater.org.uk.
Financial help for heating may be available to you because of your age, income, disability or other special health needs or weather conditions.
Burst water mains
If you are affected by burst water mains out in the street, from the public supply, you should contact Scottish Water immediately. Keep a note of the calls you make and what happens next. If Scottish Water fails to respond to your call and your property is damaged you can use the complaints procedure.
If there is water running in a public area and you think it is being wasted you should contact Scottish Water.
If you know water has burst from a private supply the environmental health department of your local authority should be able to help to locate where the private supply is located and who to get in touch with.
Insurance for damage from water leaks and burst pipes
Check what insurance cover you have for damage from water leaks. You may have cover included in a maintenance package with one of the utilities like Scottish Gas.
Most buildings insurance policies cover the cost of repairs because of pipes bursting or water leaking. Check the terms and conditions because if you leave a property empty and the damage occurs then you might not be covered for this loss.