3.5million litre leak ruins Hastings home

Mark Wickens pictured with the damage caused by a large water leak underneath his house. SUS-150111-130113001

Mark Wickens pictured with the damage caused by a large water leak underneath his house. SUS-150111-130113001

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A 3.5million litre leak that went undetected for at least six months has ruined a couple’s dream home in Hastings.

Mark and Lisa Wickens, of St Mary’s Road, spent £6,500 on redecorating their new house in 2013 before the leak was discovered in August this year.

The foundations of their home are being monitored and the walls are falling apart after the pipes leaked at a rate of 38,000 litres per day.

“The house was our dream home and we built a nice family home but we can’t do anything as we don’t now the extent of the damage,” Mr Wickens said.

A water meter was installed by Southern Water in January that was supposed to detect leaks but failed due to a software issue.

As the leak was not in a Southern Water pipe, they say it is not their fault but Mr Wickens wants the company to take responsibility for the water meter failing.

“I think it’s morally wrong that they cant take responsibility for the fact that they should have realised,” he said.

“They are just completely washing their hand of the situation.”

According to Southern Water, the water meter failure does not implicate them as they are not legally required to detect leaks outside of their pipes and is not a replacement for owners checking their own water pipes.

“Although this situation must be frustrating for Mr Wickens, the owner is legally responsible for maintaining the pipes running under their property, garden or driveway that supply their property, as well as the pipes within their property,” a spokesman said.

“This means that if there is a leak from any pipes within the property boundary, the responsibility for making a repair falls to the property owner.

“While Southern Water is not legally responsible for repairing the pipe in this instance, we have carried out a repair free of charge as a gesture of goodwill.”

Mr Wickens got Hastings MP Amber Rudd involved to try and get Southern Water to take responsibility as he said its customer service refused to talk to him.

In a response to Ms Rudd, chief executive officer Matthew Wright said it was not their fault and directed him to claim on his personal insurance.

“I want Southern Water to admit responsibility and for them to claim our costs under their insurance which they have so far refused to do,” Mr Wickens said.

“And I want compensation for the stress caused and my time that this has taken.

“It’s dreadful – I’ve been left high and dry to say the least.”

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