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Neighbour Drainage and Guttering Issues

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 13 Aug 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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[Add a Comment]
Oggy - Your Question:
I live in a basement Flat new neighbour above keeps watering plants etc on fire escape making water run down my walls doors and windows. Have tried blocking everywhere I can but she is now hosing down the walkway. I can't go into my yard every evening as water continually dripping on me for at least one hour. What do I do?

Our Response:
Have you talked to the neighbour about this?
ProblemNeighbours - 14-Aug-18 @ 11:08 AM
I live in a basement Flat new neighbour above keeps watering plants etc on fire escape making water run down my walls doors and windows. Have tried blocking everywhere I can but she is now hosing down the walkway. I can't go into my yard every evening as water continually dripping on me for at least one hour. What do I do?
Oggy - 13-Aug-18 @ 4:26 PM
Frustrated- Your Question:
Our neighbour has refused access to builders/gardeners/window cleaners etc to walk on their driveway in order to get access to our property whilst an extension was being built.We since have guttering that was damaged in the snow in March and it is hanging off our roof. It is dangerous as they use this as a walkway and their car is parked below. Is this classified as essential repairs and they need to allow someone to stand of their drive in order for us to do the repair? i.e. they can't refuse on the grounds of trespassing? We haven't asked them as they quite enjoy having the power to refuse.

Our Response:
Here's what the legislation says:
Where the court is satisfied on an application under this section that it is reasonably necessary to carry out any basic preservation works to the dominant land, those works shall be taken for the purposes of this Act to be reasonably necessary for the preservation of the land; and in this subsection “basic preservation works” means any of the following, that is to say—
(a)the maintenance, repair or renewal of any part of a building or other structure comprised in, or situate on, the dominant land;
(b)the clearance, repair or renewal of any drain, sewer, pipe or cable so comprised or situate;
(c)the treatment, cutting back, felling, removal or replacement of any hedge, tree, shrub or other growing thing which is so comprised and which is, or is in danger of becoming, damaged, diseased, dangerous, insecurely rooted or dead;
(d)the filling in, or clearance, of any ditch so comprised;but this subsection is without prejudice to the generality of the works which may, apart from it, be regarded by the court as reasonably necessary for the preservation of any land.
ProblemNeighbours - 10-Aug-18 @ 2:11 PM
Our neighbour has refused access to builders/gardeners/window cleaners etc to walk on their driveway in order to get access to our property whilst an extension was being built. We since have guttering that was damaged in the snow in March and it is hanging off our roof. It is dangerous as they use this as a walkway and their car is parked below. Is this classified as essential repairs and they need to allow someone to stand of their drive in order for us to do the repair?i.e. they can't refuse on the grounds of trespassing? We haven't asked them as they quite enjoy having the power to refuse.
Frustrated - 9-Aug-18 @ 2:22 PM
I live in a 1893 end of terrace- the front down pipe is sited into the ground on my neighbours side. My property is mortgaged but my neighbour is housing Association (My internal supporting wall between my lounge and dining shows that it is wet..30 yrs ago the house had a full DCP both internal/external walls as it underwent modernisation the downstairs flooring removed and membrane lined and concreted through out so my floor is some 1.5 foot higher then my neighbour internal floor..11 yrs ago the internal wall plaster was removed wall re injected with chemicals to stop damp and replastered..3 yrs ago I removed the plaster again and again it was replastered in less then 4 months brown patches came through the plaster to which a line appeared both sides of the internal wall which has dividing doors of wood n glass so not brick the whole way across..I contacted Severn Trent Water who then told Me to contact my house insurer who sent out a construction company to advise to tank the entire downstairs at a cost of £16-20.000..also a DCP company who said to chop back plaster re damp proof replaster at around £1000. The house insurer wont help with the damp issue but will cover the cost of decorating. None of the above sought to see where the down pipe is sited Ive removed wallcoverings and since this dry period the country as suffered the plaster on the wall looks to have dried out...then bam a thunderstorm and here we go again plaster as gone back to showing water but above the height of the light switches this time..I have been to my local council to ask advise as my neighbour is a community housing tennant who is aggresive and wont even keep their guttering clear as I do 2-3 times a year as less then a 100 meters from a line of Norweigian Maple trees...they suggest Environmental Health to come and see Me. Other neighbours have diverted their down pipes towards the pavement but my neighbour wont entertain the idea of a water pipe running along side the boundary gravel boards to the pavement.) Im at a loss what to do Im a lone parent with a 7.5 yr old Autistic Son Im his full time carer the stress of the above is making Me so ill, he gets angry and aggressive because he senses mummy is not OK. The past yr as been hell over their three fence panels between us which as now registered as a dispute with Land registery.
MWT - 9-Aug-18 @ 8:57 AM
I live in a semi-detached house & the down pipe from the guttering lies on my neighbours side. Today I have come home to find they have had replacement soffits & guttering which they have capped off between the 2 properties so my waste can’t no longer drain. Is this allowed and what can I do?
Maisie - 12-Jul-18 @ 8:21 PM
I live in a detached house which is one of four on a shared drive/private road. It appears that a drain/sewer, or possibly fresh water supply pipe, is leaking onto my land. The pipe, whether foul or fresh water, does not serve my house or cross my land, except for a very short distance almost certainly before the leak. Also, it does not serve the house on the adjacent land where the leak appears to exist [and whose owner/occupier is away at the moment], or the two other houses on the shared drive, except for supplying fresh water to one off them. How does one (a) unravel the liabilities, and (b) deal with the immediate problem immediately?
Richard - 11-Jul-18 @ 3:40 PM
I live in a semi-detached property and we share a joint lateral drain that takes away kitchen water waste (sink, dishwasher, washing machine). It's an old property and the drain is rather small. We have lived in our house for 10 years and the house next door was bought at the same time and has always been rented out. Every couple of years the drain blocks for food waste / fat etc. and we have paid for this to be professionally cleared 3 times now, and the other landlord once in 2015 (after a lot of badgering) and even then, he left it to the tenants to arrange and they just got a friend round with a rod, whereas we have paid for a full jet clean. It blocked again recently and we sorted a temp fix, I have been trying to get hold of the landlord since 24th May for him to pay this time as I feel its his turn. He's not replied to my 4 emails, 1 text and 1 phone message. How do I go about getting him to do his fair share? Also when he bought and done up the property in 2008 he planted a fur tree by the drain, it is now a massive tree and we have raised concerns about possible damage to the drain from the roots as the tree gets bigger. We have been asking for years for it to be removed. He has never addressed this concern and I would like to know that if the tree has damaged the joint drain, how would we deal with it? as I would feel he would be solely to blame.
REED - 4-Jul-18 @ 5:31 PM
Hi My neighbour is leaving their hose pipe on all day and night for the past 2 weeks, this has caused our garden to be extremely boggy and our patio looks like a lake! Rather than using a sprinkler they are just letting the hosepipe sit on the grass and move it around the garden intermittently. We have spoken to our neighbours and they claim they are trying to repair the grass which is dying. We talk to them everytime it starts flooding and ask them to move it which they do then before you know it its back where it was. today it was right up against the fence in their flowerbed, I mentioned it and she just said she was watering the plants?? I just don't know what to do any more. Our garden is about 3 foot lower than theirs. We have a retaining wall but its coming from under the drainage holes of the wall. We have young kids and its ruining summer!
marie07 - 29-Jun-18 @ 5:20 PM
I live in a terrace house. 3 houses sharing 2 downpipes. 1 at the end of 1 house and 1 inbetween me and my neighbour. Recently some new tenants moved in next door but started complaining about where the water flows from their gutter on their extension. The previous owners had the extension built before i moved in 20 years ago. So how it is was how i found it. I never questioned where there water went, as ive never had a problem for 20+ years on my side. Its only these new tenants who find where the water flows a problem, They believe water will build up during heavy rain and flood there area. The extension has a gutter and a downpipe running on the side, where the water flows down to the ground. Im assuming it flows to the drainage which is located on my side. I have tried to be accomodating taking away the fence and letting them into my garden to view where the downpipe leads. They are still not happy and have hire wates professional to come and solve the matter. Though they have stated and hinted several times that apparently it should be my responsibility. I just want to know where we stand legally. Am i obligated to share costs to help them pave the way for the water to flow to the drainage or create a new drainage? They want to dig up my slabs to get "better access". Any help and advice appreciated.
Aaron - 28-Jun-18 @ 5:25 PM
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
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