Water Charges - What you need to know

Added: Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Water Charges. -  The implications for house owners when selling

If you are considering selling a residential property, whether it is your private home or an investment property, you will need to be aware of your obligations regarding water charges as introduced by Section 48 of the Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2015 which came into effect on 1st January 2016.

Section 48(2)(a)  of this Act requires house owners to pay to Irish Water any water charges owing on a property for which the owner is liable.  This includes any charges owing by any other occupant of the house, including tenants, if you have failed to notify Irish Water of the name of the person occupying the property.

If water charges have not been paid to Irish Water any arrears owing will have to be discharged before the sale of the property goes ahead or at the very latest the outstanding charges will have to be deducted from the proceeds of any sale of the house (if there are any surplus funds available to discharge same).

At the initial stages of a sale your Solicitor will require you to produce the following:
1. A Certificate of Registration with Irish Water for the property in sale, and
2. A Certificate of Discharge from Irish Water confirming that all charges are paid to date or
alternatively a statement from Irish Water confirming that any such charges are not your

If the property has a septic tank and  is serviced by a private well or is connected to a local Group Water Scheme you may be exempt from water charges but you are still required to register the property with Irish Water and your Solicitor will require you to produce your Certificate of Registration which should confirm that there is no liability for water charges.

Where a house is occupied by tenants, or by any person with your consent, you are obliged to notify Irish Water of the name and address of the tenants within 20 days of they moving into the property.  You must also notifiy Irish Water again when the tenant moves out and this applies each time the property is rented.   If there is a period of vacancy between tenants you, the owner of the property, will be responsible for any water charges due.

If you fail to give the required notice to Irish Water you, as owner,  will remain liable for any water charges arising on the property for any period up to the date on which notice is served on Irish Water.

Where, on a point of principle or otherwise, you have refused or failed to register with Irish Water your Solicitor may be unable to act for you in the sale of the house as the 2015 Act imposes strict obligations on Solicitors to deal with water charges when properties are being sold and your Solicitor will only proceed with a sale if the necessary information and/or documents are produced by you or you authorise your Solicitor, in writing,  to liaise directly with Irish Water on your behalf with a view to registering the house with Irish Water and discharging any arrears due up to the closing date of a sale from the proceeds of that sale.

There may be occasions when there are no net sale proceeds available to a Solicitor to discharge arrears of water charges owing to Irish Water (whether the house is registered or not).  In those circumstances your Solicitor will notify Irish Water of the position and liability for the charges due will remain with you, the Vendor, and Irish Water can choose to follow you directly for these arrears through the Courts, or otherwise.

The introduction of Section 48 of the Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2015 once again highlights the divisive nature of water charges for house owners and practitioners alike.

If you require any advice on water charges or any other aspects of the sale of your property please contact John Nash Solicitors, Loughrea, County Galway at  091 841442 or email us at