Landlords of East Ayrshire homes with private water supplies could soon be charged for annual tests which ensure it is fit to drink.

East Ayrshire Council have now been tasked with testing the supplies, with proposals to introduce charges for the work to be determined this week.

It follows a warning that the age of many of homes with such supplies means there are likely to be potentially risky lead piping that may require action.

Councils have had the powers to test and charge private supplies for a number of years, with regulations in place for water consumption being passed in 2017.

Updated legislation has placed an onus on landlords, above and beyond the requirements around building conditions, including safety, heating, access, fittings and furnishings of a tenancy.

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The new legislation states that “private landlords must be satisfied that any house they rent to tenants has an adequate piped supply of wholesome drinking water within the house.

“There must be a sink with a satisfactory supply of both hot and cold water, a water closet or waterless closet available for the exclusive use of the occupants of the house.

“It must have a fixed bath or shower and a wash-hand basin, each provided with a satisfactory supply of both hot and cold water and the house must have an effective system for the drainage and disposal of foul and surface water.”

Given the importance of water supply to homes, the council will be required to carry out an annual test of the system.

Cumnock Chronicle: A determination will be made by East Ayrshire Council officials.A determination will be made by East Ayrshire Council officials. (Image: East Ayrshire Council)

They are also able to pass on the cost to the landlord.

The report to cabinet states: “They must also ensure that any pipes supplying water for human consumption are in good condition and safe to use.

“The age profile of registered private lets in East Ayrshire indicate that there are likely to be a large number built when lead piping was in use (before 1970).

“Lead in drinking water is detrimental to health particularly to the development of children.”

There are around 30 private lets and another 40 short-term lets with private water supplies in East Ayrshire.

None of the properties pay the water element of their council tax bill.

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The report to cabinet states that the changes will increase the workload and costs of the council’s environmental health service.

It continues: “The changes to the repairing standard are likely to lead to a demand for testing for lead levels in both public and private supplies by registered landlords.

“There is still much to do protect public health from the risks associated with Private Water Supplies and officers can assist with advising and administering the private water supply grant scheme which provides up to £800 to improve supplies and is funded fully by the Drinking Water Quality Regulator.”

Charges being proposed range from £35 for lead sampling and general repairing standard assessment up to £209 for a ‘regulated supply sample’.

EAC officials say this does not cover the full costs of the service, “reflecting the analysis costs only, and with a fair fee set for risk assessments to allow the service to ensure that all supplies are properly risk assessed and public health is protected.”

If approved the council would begin charging for some tests from April 1, with the remainder of the charges in place by the end of September.