Tom Melhuish 4 min read

Water pipes – who’s responsible?

Water leakage is a common problem. It is estimated that 3 billion litres of water are wasted each day across the water network. A leak occurring on your business property can cost thousands in unnecessary water charges and cause structural damage to your building.

The key question our customers ask us is, who is responsible? The water supplier, wholesaler, landlord, insurance company and tenant all play a role.

Our blog sets out actions and responsibilities for all parties when a water leak occurs within or nearby a commercial property.

The first key question is the exact location of the leak. Here’s our simplified diagram of a commercial property connected to the water network:

Pipe boundary

If a water leak occurs before the stopcock valve, in either the mains or communication pipe, then the leak is entirely the water wholesalers responsibility. Since the water meter is usually situated next to the stopcock valve, your business will not be charged for water lost in the leak.

If a water leak occurs after the stopcock valve, the property owner, tenant, or insurance company will be responsible in the supply pipe or within your business property.

Where a supply point connects multiple properties, the ultimate responsibility is shared between the properties ultimately supplied by the leaking pipe.

How do I know if there is a water leak?

Check out our guide to the signs that your business could be suffering from a water leak.

What do I do when a water leak occurs outside my business property?

If you notice or suspect a water leak that is not within the boundaries of your business property, you should contact your business water supplier. Your business water supplier will contact the local water wholesaler on your behalf to arrange for the leak to be inspected and fixed.

What do I do when a water leak occurs on my business property?

If you are experiencing a major leak, the first action could be to shut off your property’s stopcock value to prevent further leakage and property damage. Shutting the stopcock valve will shut off the supply of water to your entire property.

When a water leak occurs either as an external pipe on your business property or within the property itself, then each of the parties should act as follows:

Tenant – Refer to your commercial property lease to understand whether your landlord is responsible for repairing a water leak. In either case, we recommend informing your landlord of the leak and the actions that have been taken.

Landlord – Refer to your property lease and insurance policies to understand who is responsible for arranging and paying for repairs.

– Burst water pipes are generally covered by commercial property insurance policies. Before engaging a repairs company, we recommend contacting your insurer to fully understand the claims process and ensure an approved supplier is used.

Watersafe provides a directory of local approved plumbers to help with repairs.

Depending on the size and nature of your leak, it may be necessary to contact a commercial property leak expert that can utilise pipe detection equipment to locate and repair the leak.

Who’s responsible for the sewers and drains?

Responsibility for wastewater and sewerage pipes works the same way as the potable water system above.

Regional wholesalers for the sewerage network can often be a different company to your water wholesaler. To find out who your wholesaler is, here.

The responsibilities of business water suppliers

Business water suppliers are responsible for providing their customers with a point of contact in the event of a water leak. The customer services department at your business water supplier will work with your local water and wastewater wholesalers to fix supply issues.

Are you struggling to get hold of your customer services department? It could be time to consider making the switch to a better water supplier.