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Neighbour Drainage and Guttering Issues

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 12 Dec 2017 | 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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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
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
Matt72 - 12-Dec-17 @ 6:20 PM
kt - Your Question:
We have a shared private sewer/soakaway/fissure under our neighbours garden, which was obviously built when the houses where (circa 1900). Three houses empty waste and rain water into it. The access point is just outside the back door of the middle house. The pipes overflow once or twice a year into our neighbours patio and need rodding, because of a fractured pipe, it seems to be getting more frequent.When we bought the house Welsh water provided us with maps that showed the house as being connected to the mains. However the previous owner stated the above in the documents so we had an idea. The neighbour with the access point in her garden is always obviously very keen to get it fixed but the other neighbour is not interested in sharing even the rodding costs. My first question is do you possibly know if there is any obligation by the water company to help us get onto the mains? and secondly if we needed to upgrade the system or have to pay ourselves to get onto the mains, is there anything out there that might help us get the contribution from the third less obliging neighbour? (Do we pay first then try to get money from them or try to get money from the onset?)Any ideas anyone!?

Our Response:
It's worth contacting your water company first - as they have responsibility for some shared private sewers now. They may be willing to upgrade the pipes etc
ProblemNeighbours - 29-Nov-17 @ 2:22 PM
We have a shared private sewer/soakaway/fissure under our neighbours garden, which was obviously built when the houses where(circa 1900). Three houses empty waste and rain water into it. The access point is just outside the back door of the middle house. The pipes overflow once or twice a year into our neighbours patio and need rodding, because of a fractured pipe, it seems to be getting more frequent. When we bought the house Welsh water provided us with maps that showed the house as being connected to the mains. However the previous owner stated the above in the documents so we had an idea. The neighbour with the access point in her garden is always obviously very keen to get it fixed but the other neighbour is not interested in sharing even the rodding costs. My first question is do you possibly know if there is any obligation by the water company to help us get onto the mains? and secondly if we needed to upgrade the system or have to pay ourselves to get onto the mains, is there anything out there that might help us get the contribution from the third less obliging neighbour? (Do we pay first then try to get money from them or try to get money from the onset?) Any ideas anyone!?
kt - 29-Nov-17 @ 10:04 AM
brindlepuss - Your Question:
We have lived in our terrace house for over 20yrs a day kept in good repair. Unfortunately the house adjoining ours is now a rental. Years ago the landlord took it upon themselves to replace their section of gutter at the top of the house. They replaced it with guttering that does not match ours and leaks have been intermittent over the yrs which we ourselves have had repaired from our own pocket just for ease. Today I had a knock on the door , a maintenance man saying they have been told to assess the damage and repair it. We have just had it repaired 4 months ago.The repair guy said they can't match it to ours and therefore they will block our end off ( we only have one end that drains) and it's that end that goes to the downs pout 2 doors down.So basically we will need to sort a down spout ourselves??? I'm livid this has not been our fault the job was badly done in the first place.We have repaired it ourself over the yrs at out cost and now basically they will leave us with a non working gutter with no drainage. So our gutter will just full up and overflow.Can they legally do this without our permission. Any help will be very much appreciated thank you

Our Response:
Can you check your title deeds? There may be some information about the right to use a shared downspout etc. Your local building control might JUST be interested in advising you (but many won't bother with guttering issues).
ProblemNeighbours - 21-Nov-17 @ 12:00 PM
we have lived in our terrace house for over 20yrs a day kept in good repair. Unfortunately the house adjoining ours is now a rental. Years ago the landlord took it upon themselves to replace their section of gutter at the top of the house. They replaced it with guttering that does not match ours and leaks have been intermittent over the yrs which we ourselves have had repaired from our own pocket just for ease. Today I had a knock on the door , a maintenance man saying they have been told to assess the damage and repair it. We have just had it repaired 4 months ago .The repair guy said they can't match it to ours and therefore they will block our end off ( we only have one end that drains) and it's that end that goes to the downs pout 2 doors down .So basically we will need to sort a down spout ourselves??? I'm livid this has not been our fault the job was badly done in the first place .We have repaired it ourself over the yrs at out cost and now basically they will leave us with a non working gutter with no drainage.So our gutter will just full up and overflow ..Can they legally do this without our permission. Any help will be very much appreciated thank you
brindlepuss - 20-Nov-17 @ 2:46 PM
We recently have our next door had external insulation added to their wall, which involved the alteration of guttering. When fitted they changed the profile and was not a good fit. The joint is on my side and I am private they are council. The now guttering is leaking on my conser.vatory making bad noises when leaking. Did they have the right to join it on my property. I. Think they have gone over thr boundary..
Nugget - 15-Nov-17 @ 5:39 PM
We recently have our next door had external insulation added to their wall, which involved the alteration of guttering. When fitted they changed the profile and was not a good fit. The joint is on my side and I am private they are council. The now guttering is leaking on my conservatory making bad noises when leaking. Did they have the right to join it on my property. I. Think they have gone over thr boundary.
Nugget - 15-Nov-17 @ 5:37 PM
BUnsie - Your Question:
A colleague tells me their neighbour has revealed that they have rearranged their kitchen and relocated their washing machine to a position where there is no drain provision. So they are currently discharging the foul water from the washing machine through a hose onto their patio where it runs off to ground, which is clearly illegal and come the summer months will stink to high heaven! The adjoining property has a foul water drain located very close to the boundary of the two properties and the neighbour seems to think they can make use of that drain by routing a drain pipe from their washing machine into my colleagues foul water drain. I've advised my colleague not to agree to this. Should my colleague bring this to the attention of building control or even environmental health?

Our Response:
Do drains meet underground anyway? Sorry there isn't really enough information here. The water company is best placed to advise on this.
ProblemNeighbours - 13-Nov-17 @ 12:19 PM
Scoob - Your Question:
Our new neighbours have had work done including a new drive which was laid in a day. Out utility room at the side of the has guttering on it but the neighbour is claiming the water is leaking into his drive and ruining it. We have looked at it it’s not blocked we’ve even run water in to check but he insists when it rains it runs down the side of the utility room and onto his drive which he is saying that’s caused it to sink. There was a garage very close to the utility room when he moved in which he took down and since this there has been a problem with our guttering. Do we legally have to have guttering?

Our Response:
Not unless your neighbour can prove that the cause of his drive "skinking" is due to your water drainage. Ask him to get a independent report from a surveyor.
ProblemNeighbours - 13-Nov-17 @ 12:04 PM
A colleague tells me their neighbour has revealed that they have rearranged their kitchen and relocated their washing machine to a position where there is no drain provision.So they are currently discharging the foul water from the washing machine through a hose onto their patio where it runs off to ground, which is clearly illegal and come the summer months will stink to high heaven!The adjoining property has a foul water drain located very close to the boundary of the two properties and the neighbour seems to think they can make use of that drain by routing a drain pipe from their washing machine into my colleagues foul water drain.I've advised my colleague not to agree to this.Should my colleague bring this to the attention of building control or even environmental health?
BUnsie - 10-Nov-17 @ 4:36 PM
Our new neighbours have had work done including a new drive which was laid in a day. Out utility room at the side of the has guttering on it but the neighbour is claiming the water is leaking into his drive and ruining it. We have looked at it it’s not blocked we’ve even run water in to check but he insists when it rains it runs down the side of the utility room and onto his drive which he is saying that’s caused it to sink. There was a garage very close to the utility room when he moved in which he took down and since this there has been a problem with our guttering. Do we legally have to have guttering?
Scoob - 10-Nov-17 @ 1:36 PM
Jackie - Your Question:
Our garage is at the rear and to the side of our house.the neighbour has built an extension right up2 the boundary and has attached his gutters and downspouts 2 my garage.i have politely asked him to remove them and he has not.so I have sent him.a.recorded letter and given him.30 days 2 sort it.but he has completely ignored it.the 30 days have now expired.where do I stand legally

Our Response:
If the garage belongs to you, your neighbour should not attach anything to it. Your next step would be to take legal action.
ProblemNeighbours - 8-Nov-17 @ 10:56 AM
Hi, I have an end terrace on the end of a 6 house terrace. Every second home had a downpipe. 4 of the 6 have renewed their guttering and all have capped and downpipes their gutters.We are getting our roof we missed and all new guttering and downpipes I'm worried my neighbours moss will clog up my guttering and gulleys. If his landlord refuses to have a downpipes installed (I said I'd pay half) can i just cap mine off and make it stand alone so it essentially won't take his moss and debris? Thanks in advance.
Koose - 7-Nov-17 @ 8:47 PM
Our garage is at the rear and to the side of our house..the neighbour has built an extension right up2 the boundary and has attached his gutters and downspouts 2 my garage..i have politely asked him to remove them and he has not..so i have sent him.a.recorded letter and given him.30 days 2 sort it...but he has completely ignored it..the 30 days have now expired.where do i stand legally
Jackie - 1-Nov-17 @ 6:53 PM
Gaz - Your Question:
I've moved into a semi detached bungalow. I have no gulley to the rear of my property, as previously (before I bought it) the properties rear guttering was serviced by one downpipe located to the far side of my neighbours home.At some point, probably when having fascias done, my neighbour fitted an end cap stopping the use of the downpipe. The previous owner of my property then must have decided to create another downpipe which then stretches out along the fence line to the railway line to the rear as there is no gulley to drop it in to. Have I any rights to request reconnection to what is clearly the original guttering set up or has the previous occupant of my home created my problem?

Our Response:
It's worth seeking the opinion of your local water company if you're not happy with the current rainwater drainaway set up. It may be that you have to go with the set up established by the previous owner. If it was an issue, your surveyor would have picked up on it we think?
ProblemNeighbours - 24-Oct-17 @ 2:43 PM
I've moved into a semi detached bungalow. I have no gulley to the rear of my property, as previously (before I bought it) the properties rear guttering was serviced by one downpipe located to the far side of my neighbours home. At some point, probably when having fascias done, my neighbour fitted an end cap stopping the use of the downpipe. The previous owner of my property then must have decided to create another downpipe which then stretches out along the fence line to the railway line to the rear as there is no gulley to drop it in to. Have I any rights to request reconnection to what is clearly the original guttering set up or has the previous occupant of my home created my problem?
Gaz - 22-Oct-17 @ 8:58 AM
I live in a semidetached property linked by 2 garages shared by a common wall. At the rear of the flat roofed garages and along the roofline is guttering with the down pipe on my neighbours side. He intends building an extension and says that he is allowed to infringe the boundary because the guttering is shared - is this allowed. We get on quite well and as a solution can I cut my guttering within my boundary,fit an end cap and down pipe into a water butt. Would I need to consult the water authorities to do this.
Corby - 15-Oct-17 @ 1:52 PM
William - Your Question:
Am ai allowed to put an extra down pipe on my gutter that will run the water onto the drive This will help to manage the overflow when it rains hard.way. Currently spills out of the gutter.

Our Response:
In general your downpipe should flow into a drain. It's not advisable to allow it to run onto the drive unless it is constructed from permeable materials. If your gutters are overflowing when it rains, check that there is not a blockage somewhere.
ProblemNeighbours - 11-Oct-17 @ 10:22 AM
Am ai allowed to put an extra down pipe on my gutter that will run the water onto the drive This will help to manage the overflow when it rains hard.way. Currently spills out of the gutter.
William - 9-Oct-17 @ 3:51 PM
Lisa - Your Question:
Hi I live in a terrace house and my Neibour's Share my down pipe but there is to much water going down and causes it to overflow all over my wall which is causing damp could I ask them to cap it off and get there own down pipe ?

Our Response:
No, you should check the gutters and get them to check theirs as well - there is probably a blockage. Many homes share downpipes very successfully.
ProblemNeighbours - 22-Sep-17 @ 11:44 AM
Hi I live in a terrace house and my Neibour's Share my down pipe but there is to much watergoing down and causes it to overflow all over my wall which is causing damp could I ask them to cap it off and get there own down pipe ?
Lisa - 21-Sep-17 @ 1:38 PM
Abc - Your Question:
Hi,I am lived in a terrace house and we are going to build an extension. The neighbour just found out the sewage pipe is shared between us. She wants us to separate the sewage work while we are digging the ground. In addition, my sewage is located at his land but it was being existed when they bought it. Am I legally responsible to move the sewage pipe?

Our Response:
Shared sewer pipes are the responsible of your water company. You must contact them if you want to make any changes to the pipework.
ProblemNeighbours - 19-Sep-17 @ 9:37 AM
Hi, I am lived in a terrace house and we are going to build an extension. The neighbour just found out the sewage pipe is shared between us. She wants us to separate the sewage work while we are digging the ground. In addition, my sewage is located at his land but it was being existed when they bought it. Am I legally responsible to move the sewage pipe?
Abc - 16-Sep-17 @ 10:32 PM
Shell - Your Question:
I am a semi detached house is it legal to share a drain with waste pipe so their bath water and kitchen waste comes into my drain grate which often blocks because of grease etc

Our Response:
Many properties have shared drains. If you have concerns over ownership, your local water company will be able to help.
ProblemNeighbours - 8-Sep-17 @ 1:40 PM
I am a semi detached house is it legal to share a drain with waste pipe so their bath water and kitchen waste comes into my drain grate which often blocks because of grease etc
Shell - 7-Sep-17 @ 7:57 PM
PJ - Your Question:
I am detached from my neighbours, however we share a guttering that runs between the two carports. the downpipe is in my garden. The house next door is a rental. After several probs with neighbours regarding him having cameras with listening capability above my fence and a couple of hidden ones in their windows,abuse and being chased by them around my car on my property ( Cartwright hands estate agents were made aware on numerous occasions of the situation,to which they did nothing!) I noticed plants growing in gutter I, I cleared it at least once a year,as neighbours had refused to help.the fence in between had also always been maintained by ME only. The fence had also been purposely damaged ( however proving it !?)we decided to have new fence but because the neighbour's had been arse**** we put it over old one so thet had shabby side. The next thing I knew was men replacing plastic sheets on their side,i thought great! Finally they are doing a bit of maintenance. However the sheets and felting was left to long,and now my garage floods all over my tools and motorcycle the fence is buggered. I believe done on purpose. What is my best option, would longer felt my side stop this problem? New renter is ok. But bloody problem still there! Had enougfh,alk landlord and estate agent seem interested in is ££££.

Our Response:
If the landlord is not prepared to take action and you cannot resolve this through amicable discussion or mediation, you may have to resort to legal action.
ProblemNeighbours - 7-Aug-17 @ 1:55 PM
I am detached from my neighbours, however we share a guttering that runs between the two carports. the downpipe is in my garden. The house next door is a rental. After several probs with neighbours regarding him having cameras with listening capability above my fence and a couple of hidden ones in their windows,abuse and being chased by them around my car on my property (estate agents were made aware on numerous occasions of the situation,to which they did nothing!) I noticed plants growing in gutter I, I cleared it at least once a year,as neighbours had refused to help.the fence in between had also always been maintained by ME only. The fence had also been purposely damaged ( however proving it !?)we decided to have new fence but because the neighbour's had been arse**** we put it over old one so thet had shabby side. The next thing I knew was men replacing plastic sheets on their side,i thought great! Finally they are doing a bit of maintenance. However the sheets and felting was left to long,and now my garage floods all over my tools and motorcycle the fence is buggered. I believe done on purpose. What is my best option, would longer felt my side stop this problem? New renter is ok. But bloody problem still there! Had enougfh,alk landlord and estate agent seem interested in is ££££.
PJ - 4-Aug-17 @ 5:20 AM
Deano - Your Question:
We have just bought a new property neighbor erected 'shed' down what was a passage way on side of his house, using the dividing wall as support. The spars used just come over on to our side of the wall but he's felted the thing and now all rainwater from the 8/10 meter stretch now diverts direct into our garden. We do plan to extend down that side of the garden so damp may well be an issue later down the line but surely he has to keep the drainage on his own land? Called and seen him last weekend before the felt and things were on the lean-to / 'shed, he assured me it would be fine and nothing coming over which was a blatant lie it now seems. any suggestions? besides a strong gust of wind / sledge hammer at midnight?? Council seem reluctant to come out and was asking if it was under 3 meters which I think it probably is, just.

Our Response:
Who does the wall that the shed is attached to belong to? If it's a party wall or is yours, you should have been consulted. The council will not be able to deal with this unless it's breach of planning regs or it's a council property. Legal action is your next port of call if it's causing damage to your property, but try discussing with the neighbour first to see if you can come to an amicable solution.
ProblemNeighbours - 2-Aug-17 @ 11:10 AM
We have just bought a new property neighbor erected 'shed' down what was a passage way on side of his house, using the dividing wall as support. The spars used just come over on to our side of the wall but he's felted the thing and now all rainwater from the 8/10 meter stretch now diverts direct into our garden. We do plan to extend down that side of the garden so damp may well be an issue later down the line but surely he has to keep the drainage on his own land? Called and seen him last weekend before the felt and things were on the lean-to / 'shed, he assured me it would be fine and nothing coming over which was a blatant lie it now seems ... any suggestions? besides a strong gust of wind / sledge hammer at midnight?? Council seem reluctant to come out and was asking if it was under 3 meters which I think it probably is, just.
Deano - 29-Jul-17 @ 11:27 PM
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