I am interested in buying a house by a river which is for sale. Will I own the riverbank? What responsibilities will I have for maintenance?

A very interesting question, and often there is no clear answer from the property information. Sometimes the Environment Agency can provide information on whether you will own the riverbank and some of the river bed and it's vital to ask those questions. Not all riverside properties have the same responsibilities attached. If you do become a 'riparian owner' - the term given to a property owner who has a watercourse adjacent to any boundary - you will have responsibilities to maintain and repair both the riverbank and some of the river bed.

Maintenance works must ensure that the flow of water can pass without obstruction. This can also include the control of invasive alien species growing along the river such as Japanese knotweed. Your obligations include minimising pollution, and most importantly, avoidingany damage to the banks or any unusual change to the flow of water. This may include having to remove fallen trees, or overhanging branches, to allow th water to flow freely.

If your research shows that you will be responsible for the management of the bank, and perhaps some of the river bed as well, I would advise you to consider carefully whether you have the time and money to comply with the obligations before you go ahead with the purchase.

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