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Neighbour Drainage and Guttering Issues

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 16 Jun 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Sewer Drain Guttering Blockage Repair

It’s nobody’s favourite scenario – there’s a blocked drain and you aren’t sure who’s responsible for it. There are three possible outcomes to this one, depending on whether the blockage is a drain, a private sewer or a blocked public sewer. There are actually strict definitions of all three, according to Public Health law, so hold your nose and try and establish which one is your issue.

What is a Drain?

A drain is simply a pipe that only takes drainage from a building or buildings within the same property boundary. It might be a drain for foul water like toilet waste or for surface water such as rainwater from the roof, but whichever it is, if it’s on your property, you are responsible for unblocking or repairing it until the point where it reaches someone else's property.

What is a Sewer?

A pipe becomes a sewer at the point where it takes drainage water from the private drains(and then lateral drains) groups of properties.

When it comes to any problems, the law generally requires owners or occupiers of the properties that use and connect to the sewer to repair any damage and remove any blockage that occur in drains within their own property boundary.

Your local Water Company is responsible for clearing blockages, maintaining and repairing public sewers. Before a 2011 law change, some groups of properties were connected to what were called private sewers - and the owners in that group of properties were responsible for the upkeep (including blockages) of those sewers. Since the law changed you are now only responsible for maintaining and clearing drains within your own property boundary.

How do I Know Who is Responsible?

Since the law changed, it has become clearer and generally works as follows:
  • Detached homes - Before 2011 you were responsible for maintaining drains up to the point where they met the main sewer pipe. This meant you may have been responsible for the drains under the pavement and possible part of the road outside your home. Since 2011, you are responsible for the drain only up to the point of your property boundary e.g end of your drive/front garden.
  • Semi-detached homes - Before the changes you and your attached neighbour were responsible for the drain up to the point where it met the main sewer (often under the road outside your properties). Since the 2011 changes, you are responsible only for the part up to your boundary with the adjoining house. If the drain runs across your property from your neighbour's before continuing towards the sewer then your responsibility ends at their boundary (the water company is responsible for the remaining part across your property) - so even though that part of the drain is within your property boundaries you are not responsible for it.
  • Terraced houses - Before the changes in 2011, each home was responsible for any part of the drain that crossed their property boundary before it reached the sewer. Since the change, you are only responsible for the part immediately before it connects to the drains of the other terraces in the row. So if the drain runs from one end of a row of terraces to the other you only need be responsible for the part of your drain before it connects to it (the water company is responsible for the rest of the drain).

Other Privately Owned Sewers

Some properties, particularly those in rural areas do not connect directly to a public sewer - those with a cesspit, septic tank or treatment plant have not been affected by the law changes and will normally have their own arrangements for blocked drains and maintenance.

Private Pumping Stations?

Some small groups of properties are not connected directly to a main sewer but via a private pumping station. Previously the owners were responsible for the pumping station, the pipes and the connection to the main sewer. This is going through a phased change and by 2016 the water companies will (in general) be responsible for maintaining the pumping station and the pipe work.

Blocked Sewer or Drain?

If you think there is a problem with a blocked sewer, contact your local water company. If they discover the blockage is actually within your drain (the part for which you are responsible), then you will have to take steps to clear the blockage yourself.

If Neighbours are Uncooperative over a Blocked Drain

Most drain un-blocking companies will invoice the person who called them out, no matter who is actually responsible in law for covering the costs. If you live in a terrace or semi detached home for example and discover the blockage is due to a neighbouring drain then you will have to approach them for payment. Your local council has powers to serve legal notices on anyone who fail clear a blockage under various Public Health acts.

What About Guttering?

Shared land also means shared responsibility for repair, and so if there are damaged gutters, it’s reasonable to share the costs of repairing them. If guttering and water egress drainage is shared between two properties (look at your deeds and it should say whether this is the case) there is normally a joint responsibility (and liability) for maintenance and repair.

Talk to your neighbour before you organise anything, once you’ve checked the deeds to make sure you’re in the right. Most neighbours will be reasonable, especially if you have the deeds to back you up, and a polite request should be all you need. If they refuse, you have no choice but to get the work done and then request reimbursement of their share in writing. If they still won’t play ball, you’ll have to get down to the county court – but the law is certainly on your side…

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Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
J - Your Question:
Hi I live in a semi detached house. The there is a single down pipe from the shared roof guttering in our side of the boundary. This downpipe drains into a soak away on our side of the boundary. Neighbour has built and extension which has increased the volume of water flowing into, and overwhelming the soak away. This is causing flooding on our patio. Neighbour has refused to act. Can we disconnect or block their guttering, on our side of the boundary to prevent their roof water draining onto our land?

Our Response:
No the most sensible thing to do is to try and come to an amicable agreement on a solution. If you can't agree yourselves, consider a dispute resolution service or mediator. If that doesn't work you might have to consider legal action.
ProblemNeighbours - 18-Jun-18 @ 2:18 PM
Hi I live in a semi detached house. The there is a single down pipe from the shared roof guttering in our side of the boundary. This downpipe drains into a soak away on our side of the boundary. Neighbour has built and extension which has increased the volume of water flowing into, and overwhelming the soak away. This is causing flooding on our patio. Neighbour has refused to act. Can we disconnect or block their guttering, on our side of the boundary to prevent their roof water draining onto our land?
J - 16-Jun-18 @ 9:12 AM
I’ve had front gutters done 2 times in A month first it was the front guttering That cost £20 a further £60 was had for replacement of 2 tiles which he said needed doing .then another roofer came and had another £20 To clear down pipe he said the neighbors had it done so it wasn’t fair on them? Then he replaced part of the down pipe £80 ? He’s coming back to do more work on guttering £50 he said he would not charge me too much because he said he knew what it was like being unemployed ? Christ?
Tez - 29-May-18 @ 2:56 PM
I live in a semi detached house and my adjoining neighbour has the down pipe. Heavy rain causes the water in my guttering at the back of my house to spill overlike a waterfall. The people who came to clear my guttering previously told me the problem lies with my adjoining neighbours . They have a build up of debris in their gutteringor down pipe. This meansthat whenever theres heavy rain, the rainwater and debris flows backwards from my neighbours guttering into mine causing a cascade of water over my side.
mai - 27-May-18 @ 1:46 PM
I live in a village . Recently my neighbour prepared a open drain in front of my home . Repeatedly I request them but no such reply has been given by them . Moreover they are threating me . What can I do against them.
Pintu - 19-May-18 @ 2:26 PM
I live in a semi detached house and the down pipe from the guttering into a drain falls in the neighbouring property.We share a driveway entrance with the neighbours on the other side who are in turn a semi detached property themselves.We want to get a new driveway laid as do our neighbours who we share the entrance with.The new driveway would include a drainage area where it’s been suggested the water is diverted into the drain which is next door.At the moment it is blocked up with moss etc and the neighbours are reluctant to allow the builders to divert the run off water under ground to the drain pipe.Without this option it makes getting the driveway a no go essentially as we can’t get the drainage we need put in.Where does it lie in us having rights in using the drain which ultimately we share with the neighbours albeit it is their side of the fence?
vanders - 12-May-18 @ 9:16 PM
midterraced - Your Question:
I live second from the end on a terrace of 5 houses which share 3 downpipes, one at each end and one in the middle. My neighbour in the middle terrace has recently installed new guttering of a different size and capped my guttering off so I no longer have access to his downpipe. Now my other neighbours (end terrace) guttering is overflowing and running down the front of his property when it rains heavily, all was fine before the recent work.Is it legal to cap off/disconnect neighbours from shared downpipes?

Our Response:
From the above:,br> "Shared land also means shared responsibility for repair, and so if there are damaged gutters, it’s reasonable to share the costs of repairing them. If guttering and water egress drainage is shared between two properties (look at your deeds and it should say whether this is the case) there is normally a joint responsibility (and liability) for maintenance and repair.
Talk to your neighbour before you organise anything, once you’ve checked the deeds to make sure you’re in the right. Most neighbours will be reasonable, especially if you have the deeds to back you up, and a polite request should be all you need. If they refuse, you have no choice but to get the work done and then request reimbursement of their share in writing. If they still won’t play ball, you’ll have to get down to the county court – but the law is certainly on your side…"
ProblemNeighbours - 4-May-18 @ 11:04 AM
I live second from the end on a terrace of 5 houses which share 3 downpipes, one at each end and one in the middle. My neighbour in the middle terrace has recently installed new guttering of a different size and capped my guttering off so I no longer have access to his downpipe. Now my other neighbours (end terrace) guttering is overflowing and running down the front of his property when it rains heavily, all was fine before the recent work. Is it legal to cap off/disconnect neighbours from shared downpipes?
midterraced - 2-May-18 @ 10:06 AM
My neighbour has had new guttering put on the front of his house but also added a long bristle type of thing. Since doing this I have had water running down my front wall and had to call out a roofer to repair it but he told me it won't change because of this bristle, also the neighbours gutter is not level and dips in the centre so water is not running freely and possibly causing some of the build up of water especially if it rains very hard. My neighbour won't take the bristle out or level his gutter as it's not causing him any problems. Can you advise me of what I can do to get this rectified as i'm concerned it may cause damp in my house. Thanks Ann
Smorph - 15-Apr-18 @ 9:56 AM
My home is on a slope and the neighbour next door who's house is on higher ground has a leaking gutter and water is coming down towards my property. I am in the process of buying but is a council house at moment and he an owner occupier. I have written a letter to him as he works odd hours with no answer. What rights do I have as a council tennant please?
Kimbo_DSB - 4-Apr-18 @ 8:05 PM
My neighbours rainwater gulley has no soaraway fitted to it. After recent works to their pathway, the opposite end of the gulley was capped off by the builders, leaving the open end of the gulley at my side of the property. All rainwater that enters this gulley now exits directly onto my land underneath my front window. My inner walls are now showing damp and mould!! What responsibilities does my neighbour have regarding the redirection of surface water from their property into mine??
JC - 3-Apr-18 @ 9:27 AM
We live in a property with a flat roofed garage built alongside it. The other side of the garage forms the boundary between our property and our neighbour's land. Before we moved into our house over 20 years ago, the previous neighbour had fixed guttering running the length of his side of our garage, draining into his property. The new neighbour wishes to re-route this existing gutteringback onto our land, can he do this?
Tonka - 23-Mar-18 @ 6:00 PM
I live in a terrace. I’ve received a complaint from nextdoor that they are experiencing drain odours. I’ve had no problems in my house. Their drain was found to be damaged and has been replaced, but they are still experiencing the odours. Therefore their landlord (council) asked me to replace my drains also. I had a drain survey which has found that my drains are relatively new and didn’tfind any problems. The council are now threatening “further action” unless I resolve the odour. My home insurance will not cover any works until I present them with evidence of a problem. I don’t know what I am supposed to do.
Charlie - 20-Mar-18 @ 10:05 PM
ElPenguino - Your Question:
I live in a semi detached property. each of the two properties is a shared freehold as there are flats in each. Both properties share the guttering, the waste water from this feeds into a downpipe which sits on "our" side and drains into a surface water drain in the corner of my patio (I am in the ground floor flat).A flat in the next door property (2nd floor) is currently being renovated and they have moved the kitchen as part of the redevelopment. They are currently fitting the sanitary waste pipes for the kitchen and are hooking up the pipes to drain into the rainwater downpipe. As I understand it this is not right at all (illegal even?) as it means sanitary waste is going into the surface water waste.I will obviously speak to the developer first, but if that doesn't work out, who should I report it to? My local Planning Authority? Or Thames Water (our provider)? Thanks for any help you can give.

Our Response:
Talk to the water company first. Building control might also be able to advise you.
ProblemNeighbours - 26-Feb-18 @ 11:14 AM
I live in a semi detached property. each of the two properties is a shared freehold as there are flats in each. Both properties share the guttering, the waste water from this feeds into a downpipe which sits on "our" side and drains into a surface water drain in the corner of my patio (I am in the ground floor flat). A flat in the next door property (2nd floor) is currently being renovated and they have moved the kitchen as part of the redevelopment. They are currently fitting the sanitary waste pipes for the kitchen and are hooking up the pipes to drain into the rainwater downpipe. As I understand it this is not right at all (illegal even?) as it means sanitary waste is going into the surface water waste. I will obviously speak to the developer first, but if that doesn't work out, who should I report it to? My local Planning Authority? Or Thames Water (our provider)? Thanks for any help you can give.
ElPenguino - 22-Feb-18 @ 3:41 PM
talln4 - Your Question:
Hi, I am in a detached bungalow at the end of a Cul-de-sac, our neighbours had no issues but I had water issues in my house i.e water filling up in the toilets and slow draining water also in the same with all the sinks, after completing (unsuccessfully) all the usual tasks to resolve i.e. plunger, liquids etc, I had to get a plumber in, he quickly diagnosed that it was a drainage problem. I have a shared private drive with my neighbour, the plumber opened up 2 off main water covers which are located at each end of the drive and both were full and just about to overflow, the plumber advised to contact the water board to resolve, he also suggested that because I am at the end all the blockage was feeding back to my house therefore all the neighbours that are connected to this would not be seeing any issues. We have never had any issues before, the drive, water covers, pipes etc were all in place when we bought this new built house in 2002. Would this be chargeable work from the waterboard and is so who is responsible for the costs

Our Response:
This will depends if and where the blockage was found. Your deeds might give more information - the costs may be shared among all the users of the drain.
ProblemNeighbours - 19-Feb-18 @ 3:30 PM
Hi, I am in a detached bungalow at the end of a Cul-de-sac, our neighbours had no issues but I had water issues in my house i.e water filling up in the toilets and slow draining water also in the same with all the sinks, after completing (unsuccessfully) all the usual tasks to resolve i.e. plunger, liquids etc, I had to get a plumber in, he quickly diagnosed that it was a drainage problem. I have a shared private drive with my neighbour, the plumber opened up 2 off main water covers which are located at each end of the drive and both were full and just about to overflow, the plumber advised to contact the water board to resolve, he also suggested that because I am at the end all the blockage was feeding back to my house therefore all the neighbours that are connected to this would not be seeing any issues. We have never had any issues before, the drive, water covers, pipes etc were all in place when we bought this new built house in 2002. Would this be chargeable work from the waterboard and is so who is responsible for the costs
talln4 - 17-Feb-18 @ 9:25 AM
I have put up a fence betweenme and my neighbour I live in a semi detached in the passed he has had access to my garden but now he doesn't he has stated he will block up my drains which are in his garden if I don't give him access is it legal to do this thanks MUG
Jude - 7-Feb-18 @ 10:44 AM
Hi bsten if your neighbour had their work completed and signed off by a building inspector before you moved in then there's not much you can do. Usually with semis neighbours would share the flow of water 50/50for example if you have their water at the front they have yours at the back. Hope this helps.
Scotty - 31-Jan-18 @ 9:27 AM
Hi, I live in a semi detached and my neighbour had the shared downpipe on their side before having an extension built(before I moved in),I have the pictures to prove this. However, after the extension was built they placed the downpipe onto my porch roof to run down across my tiles and into my guttering which has caused damp on the outer cement and also my inside window cill. When I confronted my neighbour asking them to remove the horizontal pipe that goes on my porch and replace with a roof to ground downpipe they said you bought the house 'sold as seen' and therefore cannot make them move it back. Is this correct? And if not, what actions do I need to take? Thankyou
Bsten - 27-Jan-18 @ 1:56 PM
After 19.5 years I have a new neighbour and we are semi detached. My house has a small rear extension which was built in 1969 and as next door attached had no extension my 48 years-old guttering projected slightly past the edge of my extension wall next to neighour. I mentioned this to new neighbour as he said he intendedbuilding a rear and side extension and told him amicably he could cut it off if needed. That was in August last year and I have had a shock as just this week have noticed after having an avalanche of water crash onto my extension roof which gushed over the gutters onto my patio a few weeks ago, that he has left my end guttering in place and deliberately used it to send his roof rainfall into my gutters which is illegal. Our only down pipes are at the front of detached side of houses.My slight projecting end gutter was capped.Neighbour's guttering falls short of his roof side ridge by indeterminent length and I see no gap which builders told me would be 2", then 4" then 2" again.I know that the 4" was too far away to be able to use my gutter. He says he owns my end gutter as it is on his landand can do what he wants with it.Even send his water right across my property causing my gutter to over flow and clog up with his roof moss. I paid good money to have my roof cleaned of all moss to stop it clogging up my gutters just 2 years ago and now he is causing his moss to clog up my gutters. What do people suggest I do?
Twinkletoes - 19-Jan-18 @ 7:25 AM
Microhead - Your Question:
Hi, I live in a terraced property. 4 houses along the terrace (I am one of the middle ones with no downpipe). I had a Building Contractor out to have a look at the gutter at the front of my house, as it keeps overflowing (like a waterfall!) whenever it rains heavily. He said that the two properties (to the right of mine) gutters are blocked (One of which has plants growing out of it!) and is most likely the cause of this. He suggested to let them know one way or another that they are blocked and need cleaning out/unblocking asap. I have done this (via a letter to each property with the date of letter sent on it), asking to please get this sorted asap, as it may be potentially damaging/causing damp to my property. I am very concerned that this isn't going to get done by either property, as one is rented by a tenant and the other one (with the plants growing) owns theirs.I have given them 8 weeks to sort this (as I feel this is ample time to get such a simple job sorted), although I didn't specifiy this in the letter to them, only asap. Didn't want to push too much initially. No previous disputes and we relatively keep ourselves to ourselves.In the event that this doesn't get sorted within the 8 weeks, what are my options please going forward, as I am very concerned that the longer this is left, the more damage will slowly be caused to my property. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Our Response:
Check your deeds to make sure you are not all jointly responsible first. If the owner of the property on which each downpipe is situated is responsible, then you could consider legal action to get them to clear it - hopefully your request will be sufficient. It's also worth contacting the landlord of the person who's renting.
ProblemNeighbours - 17-Jan-18 @ 3:07 PM
Hi, I live in a terraced property. 4 houses along the terrace (I am one of the middle ones with no downpipe). I had a Building Contractor out to have a look at the gutter at the front of my house, as it keeps overflowing (like a waterfall!) whenever it rains heavily. He said that the two properties (to the right of mine) gutters are blocked (One of which has plants growing out of it!) and is most likely the cause of this. He suggested to let them know one way or another that they are blocked and need cleaning out/unblocking asap. I have done this (via a letter to each property with the date of letter sent on it), asking to please get this sorted asap, as it may be potentially damaging/causing damp to my property. I am very concerned that this isn't going to get done by either property, as one is rented by a tenant and the other one (with the plants growing) owns theirs. I have given them 8 weeks to sort this (as I feel this is ample time to get such a simple job sorted), although I didn't specifiy this in the letter to them, only asap. Didn't want to push too much initially. No previous disputes and we relatively keep ourselves to ourselves. In the event that this doesn't get sorted within the 8 weeks, what are my options please going forward, as I am very concerned that the longer this is left, the more damage will slowly be caused to my property. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Microhead - 15-Jan-18 @ 1:21 PM
Km - Your Question:
I've literally moved into my semi-detached house. Before christmas the neighbours of the next semi (not joined to me) had a flood in their kitchen which is in an extension. They had a drain man come out and he cleared a block drain. Subsequently, I ended up with slimy black sludge coming out of my water surface drain the same evening he had been. This drain is now blocked. I've been trying to resolve this with the neighbours as I think the drain man moved the problem to me. In addition, it turns out their washing machine had been plumbed into their 'storm drain' and not the foul water system - I suspect this is what the sludge is (build up of soapy water). Who is responsible to resolve my blockage?

Our Response:
You need to get someone to find out the exact cause of your own blockage - if this provides evidence that your neighbour is at fault you can take action either by talking to the neighbour or via the courts.
ProblemNeighbours - 12-Jan-18 @ 3:44 PM
I've literally moved into my semi-detached house.Before christmas the neighbours of the next semi (not joined to me) had a flood in their kitchen which is in an extension.They had a drain man come out and he cleared a block drain.Subsequently, I ended up with slimy black sludge coming out of my water surface drain the same evening he had been.This drain is now blocked.I've been trying to resolve this with the neighbours as I think the drain man moved the problem to me.In addition, it turns out their washing machine had been plumbed into their 'storm drain' and not the foul water system - I suspect this is what the sludge is (build up of soapy water). Who is responsible to resolve my blockage?
Km - 11-Jan-18 @ 6:54 AM
muffin - Your Question:
I own my semi detached house with the shared downpipe for guttering being on the side of my house. My neighbour is having trouble with his guttering overflowing. He is now trying to force me to alter my gutter so his flows down more to drain. Can he do this? Neither gutters have been changed in recent years.

Our Response:
This shouldn't be necessary. Ask you neighbour to check that his own guttering is good repair and hasn't any blockages. If the shared downpipe is the issue, you should both contribute towards its repair/unblocking etc.
ProblemNeighbours - 8-Jan-18 @ 11:43 AM
We have the neighbours storm water drain coming under my fence at the side of the house running down the side of the path above ground level to the front of our garden and discharged on the garden,can we block it up and cut it off,we have tried to discuss it with him but he don't want to know.he knows he's not allowed to do this,he has been ask to remove it.
Pat - 6-Jan-18 @ 7:09 PM
I own my semi detached house with the shared downpipe for guttering being on the side of my house.My neighbour is having trouble with his guttering overflowing. He is now trying to force me to alter my gutter so his flows down more to drain.Can he do this?Neither gutters have been changed in recent years.
muffin - 5-Jan-18 @ 11:52 AM
I live in a 1930s semi and have recently been having trouble with rainwater. We have a double hipped roof and a gulley between the front hips drains water in to a downpipe which is pretty much the only water drainage from front roof of both properties. During periods of heavy rain, water flows over the top of the gulley as the hole is easily blocked or in some cases simply isn't big enough to drain the sheer volume of water in to the down pipe. We are looking at getting the flashing re done to minimise chances of blockage and widen the hole to drain more of the roof water. The downpipe meets the ground and goes straight in to a clay/concrete pipe and the join is sealed. All other downpipes on the property end about 1 inch from the ground and water drains in toa gulley pot. I am concerned that any debris from the roof falling down the downpipe could be building up at the bottom, and therefore the overflow could be as a result of blockages in the down pipe. I recently had a drain company out who suggested that as it is a shared pipe, our responsibility ends at the point at which the pipe meets the ground and ownership transfers to the water company. Is this the case? Could I be able to ask Severn Trent to replace the sealed join with a gulley similar to the rest of the property so that any blockages become apparent more easily?
Walshy252 - 29-Dec-17 @ 7:30 PM
Matt72 - Your Question:
We live in a detached house. Our storm drain runs from our boundary and under a neigbours property, eventualy flowing into a stream.The neighbours storm drain does not run into our drain so they are not using the same drain channel.Our storm drain is blocked about 10 meters under there property. We have had this validated by Britich Gas (DynoRod), United Utilities and several independant contractors over the last few weeks.Due to heavy snow the blocked drain is forcing thousands of Gallons of water into our garden and is threatening to flood our home. We have had to rig a pump to move the water onto the road.Our neighbour says that the blocked drain is not his responsibility because he does not use it.This can't be correct can it? This means he can be a fault for a collapsed drain and yet deny responsibility for this blockage.My interpretation is that the drain runs through his land so it is his responsibility. He should allow access to fix the issue?M

Our Response:
If none of the neighbour's drains connect with this, then it's unlikely he will be responsible. If you can prove thatthe drain has collapsed and that it's because of something the neighbour has done, you may be able to take action. You would need to get a professional survey done to establish the cause of the blockage to do this.
ProblemNeighbours - 13-Dec-17 @ 3:43 PM
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