Water leaks and pipes
This information applies to Scotland only.
On this page you can find out who is responsible for maintaining water pipes and fixing leaks. There's also information about what happens if water is wasted because of a leak that doesn't get repaired.
Water pipes and who’s responsible
If you own your home, you're responsible for all the pipes in the house and the pipes that go to the boundary of your property to join up with the stopcock for the mains pipe. If you have a leak in your pipes, you have to fix it.
If you're in a tenement property where the outer water piping is shared, you all share the responsibility for maintaining the pipes. If there's a leak, you have to share the cost of fixing it, according to the rules in the title deeds or the alternative statutory tenement management scheme rules.
If a leak has caused damage to a neighbour's property, there may be a dispute about who is responsible for the repairs. Read more about neighbour disputes about damages and repairs.
If there's a leak in the mains pipes, Scottish Water 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're a tenant and there's a water leak from pipes in the property you rent, you have to get the homeowner or landlord to fix it. If they fail to repair it properly and there's a risk to your health or ability to live in the property, you can contact the water authority.
Most private landlords are legally bound by a standard called the 'repairing standard'. If the water pipes and installations aren't 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 doesn't cover your tenancy, the 'tolerable standard' may apply.
If you don't repair water pipes when there's a leak and you're responsible for the pipes that are leaking, Scottish Water can come and fix any pipes that are accessible, if water is being wasted. Scottish Water will send you the bill for the repair.
If you don't fix a water pipe that you're responsible for and water is being wasted but Scottish Water needs access to fix it, you'll get a warning letter 24 hours before they intend to come. If you refuse to give Scottish Water access to fix the water pipe, they 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's sensible to take precautions to make sure the pipes in your home, holiday home or business don't burst. Scottish Water has put together a winter code for protecting pipes. The main message is that you should heat, insulate and protect your pipes. You can read Scottish Water's winter code on their website.
You may be able to get financial help for heating because of your age, income, disability or other special health needs, or because of weather conditions.
Burst water mains
If you're affected by burst water mains 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's water running in a public area and you think it's 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 locate the private supply and tell you 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 a utility like Scottish Gas.
Most buildings insurance policies cover the cost of repairs due to pipes bursting or water leaking. Check the terms and conditions because if you leave a property empty and damage occurs, you might not be covered for this loss.