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Neighbour Drainage and Guttering Issues

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 29 Sep 2020 | 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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My neighbour built a tin garage with no guttering ,15 inches from boundary with my driveway where I have parked my car for 20 years, up until this week his boundary fence took the brunt of the water that flows of the roof obviously over the years since he built said garage the fence had rotted out,the recent wind brought down the fence,now the water that comes off that roof which is 70inches to gutter level comes into my drive and my car, he refuses to put a gutter on ,not very neighbourly or respectful, what can I do about this, I am now unable to park my car on my driveway to keep an eye on it ,
JAP - 29-Sep-20 @ 5:03 PM
Joined guttering with neighbour's is not coping with the amount of rain coming off the roof down my down pipe can I make them instal there ownthanks
Swivel - 14-Sep-20 @ 10:07 AM
I live in aterraced house andhave a problem with glittering. When I bought my house the gutter had intermittently overflowed and caused dampness and water ingress in my back room. The neighbour side of gutter is raised causing flow of water to come to my house and all debris from the roof and the neighbour side washes into mine and the dowmpipe in my garden. I tried explaining this was causing a problem to my neighbours who did not show any interest and say it is my problem. I explained of my intention to have replacement guttering and dowmpipe which are on my property,and suggested they use the same builder to get the gutter on their side cleaned and repaired. Updated. I received no response . I went ahead and had my gutter replaced and my side separate and stop end. To prevent further flow of debris washing into mine and causing water ingress and overflow. However the neighbour is not happy and threatens to take action saying He has a right to use my gutter and dowmpipe. I suggested he have his own installed which would solve the problem but he refuses.
Maz - 1-Sep-20 @ 9:13 PM
My neighbour down pipe from gutter is blocked and as I live in a terrace house we share the same gutter. Because of blocked pipe the water overflows on my living room walls. I have tried a polite conversation with them , but they do refuse tolisten. What do I do next ?
Ema - 28-Aug-20 @ 12:27 PM
My neighbors have been stalking me for a while now watching all my online activities such as smartphone and laptop. They have spy devices in or around my house. I don't feel like I have any privacy in my own home. My room is bugged Everything I say or do is being hurd by neighbors next door. My WiFi is weird cause I haven't payed it this month and it's still working. I DON'T KNOW what's going on. Should I call the police to investigate???? I promise I'm not high ??????
MNSTR - 17-Aug-20 @ 6:09 AM
i have a semi detached house with a shared downpipe on my neighbours property, the soakaway drain is also in the neighbours garden.The drain ( soakaway) has failed . Who is responsible for this ?
Suzanne - 15-Aug-20 @ 5:57 PM
We live in a semi-detached house and our elderly neighbour died of Alzheimer's last autumn, leaving a married daughter who lives in Swindon and his unmarried son in his early 50's who has always lived at home.We share a downpipe with this neighbour who, some years ago while we were on holiday, built a foot-high, 2-foot long wall between our properties to force the postman to walk back to the sidewalk and up again to deliver his post.He also moved the downpipe a couple of inches to our side and chipped a piece out of his low wall tohave the downpipe exit into our driveway. We didn't notice as our car obscured the view and it wasn't really a problem since there wasn't that much rain.However since the old man has been ill (about five years) nobody has cleaned the gutter on his side and last winter because there was a lot of rain and the downpipe was completely blocked the water was pouring out of his gutteronto our side and running into our driveway and up the side of our house, it was that deep.We tried to contact the son but he just shut the door in our face.We contacted the daughter about the problem and she accusedus of trespassing when we looked into her gutter and suggested getting rid of the low wall that was part of the problem, forcing us to take all the water into our driveway. In the end we had to hire a solicitor to write to her, and also a groundworks team to replace the downpipe, remove the wall, and construct a soakaway on the borderline under the lawn.This has cost us about £1500 and we haven't heard from them at all since the daughter accused us of trespass.I don't suppose we shall ever see any money from them. This continues under "Overgrown and messy gardens".
worriedgardener - 13-Jul-20 @ 4:50 PM
my neighbours gutter is broken and the water is coming onto my side. I am concerned it will damage my new roof and the plaster by it. The rain doesn't shoot down it comes across when its really windy. I have spoken to the sister that's was 3 days a go. Can I go legal on them.
Jo - 11-Jul-20 @ 10:41 PM
I live in a duplex and for some reason or gutters are connected and we each have a down drop but we clean ours 3 times a year and in the 7 years we have lived there we have clean both houses but enough is enough so we stoped going it. Now we have ours clean but because the neighbor side isn't ours get clogged again we have asked him to clean and he just responds i jus cleaned it last fall to which i said well needs to be cleaned again you have trees growing 6 months fall show melts we clean again and now we have have to clean again e months later because all the leaves from last year have come rolling over to our side. Can I clean his side and send him a bill?
Vanda - 5-Jul-20 @ 7:15 PM
I live in an ex council property and have my neighbours soil pipe (toilet waste) on my property. The pipe is located inside my out building that connects to my house so it's internal and I want this moving off my property or at least replacing. What are the laws of responsibility for these pipes?
Byrnsey - 1-Jul-20 @ 7:26 AM
We have a very similar issue to None above re. next door neighbour's guttering adjoining our house whorefuses to install a downpipe.How do we access the discussion above on None's issue? Kind regards. Bernie
b] - 23-Jun-20 @ 8:25 AM
Next doors guttering overlaps and runs into ours. In heavy downpours our gutter overflows in the middle and onto ourextension roof . We had the kitchen ceiling repainted after we fitted new guttering and asked the neighbour on the other side to drop his far end of guttering , which he did . We asked the neighbour who’s water runs into our drain to have a down pipe fitted as he had a drain out side his back door already . He refused saying thats how he brought the house , not his problem ! What is our next step
None - 20-Jun-20 @ 1:40 PM
I live in a terraced house and no the design of the estate my neighbours down pipe (rain water only) is in our garden however this down pipe is not connected to our guttering or waste in anyway just a bad design from 1950’s council estate housing. Our neighbours and I now own the properties but how do I legally get this removed as we don’t want it on our property or do we not have a case as it’s been in our boundary for us over 70yrs.
Scott - 18-Jun-20 @ 12:06 PM
When my upstairs neighbour runs her kitchen sink tap it flows down the waste pipe but there is a leak in the cast iron pipe, the water leaks onto my decking below. I have used gorilla tape to try and stem the leak but it is still trickling. Am I responsible for the repair on this as this pipe isnt used by me?
Shengus - 15-Jun-20 @ 6:35 PM
We are a block of 5 terraced houses. Ours is the middle. Over the years my 2 immediate neighbor's have removed downpipes at the back. This is causing all rain to head for our downpipe and consequently onto our flat roof. Is it legal to remove downpipes like this.
Maddie - 11-Jun-20 @ 10:57 AM
Neighbours gutter is leaking at front of the house. It is located on their side (it’s a semi detached house). The problem is te front windows are bay windows. So the water is not dripping on the ground but on top of what is essentially the living room roof. It’s extremely noisy and can be heard in front bedroom also. I have spoke to them about it and assured me someone was coming to fix it. It has now been over 3 weeks and nothing has changed. What is my next step? Is there some sort of legal action to take as it is a constant disturbance every time it rains. Thanks
Rb - 10-Jun-20 @ 7:20 PM
My neighbor's builder has put my neighbor's central heating out let pipe into my conservatory guttering without my knowledge the my foof uf filthy with morter what can i do
Cags - 7-Jun-20 @ 9:16 AM
Hello I share a downpipe with my neighbours property. They have changed their guttering however they have not joined my guttering correctly onto their new guttering which is causing rainwater to run down the front of my property. Am I in the right to correct this and send them the cost of the repair.
Usher - 6-Jun-20 @ 11:28 AM
Hi my neighbours garden floods and they are now creating channels to move water to my garden which will cause my garden to flood. Thus will also cause our wooden fence to now sit in a channel of wet earth/water. They have also installed a pump further up the garden again with pipe going to my garden. Pipe is 3 inches max from my boundary fence. I know they are intent on flooding us. What are my rights (Scotland)
Ella - 18-May-20 @ 10:48 AM
On my road all houses are terraced houses and every house has a gutter pipe on the border my neighbour connected his gutter on my pipe ,if this pipe goes together with the waist water this means that I pay more ?
Laur - 12-May-20 @ 8:16 PM
i want to know where i can lay a complain about my nabour gutter that is hanging in my yard and rain water thats destroying my walls now the water is coming under the flore into my home
lauren - 7-May-20 @ 10:56 AM
Hello Everyone! This is my situation. I have a detached garage. Which is connected to my neigbours detached garage. Both garage are the same length. Neighbours sits slightly higher than mine. Both garages have guttering at the end of the garages. The guttering have always been independent of one another. My neighbours guttering had an end cap. So it never protruded into my garden. Recently neighbour has had some work done. His guttering has been changed. Now his extended his guttering across my boundary fence and positioned the down pipe so his water is dispersed on my guttering.. I’ve contacted my local planning office and provided detailed images of before and after... Awaits a response! Does anyone know the build regs when it comes to this sort of thing? I’m aware this could be deemed as anti social behaviour..
Hugo - 5-May-20 @ 7:15 PM
Hi semi detached only one down pipe to take all water away which is on my side of property...Does the water board charge me for all the run off water ? Or is it shared thanks
LA - 22-Apr-20 @ 10:05 AM
My property is on a hilly corner plot. On the boundary is an open gully which allows water to run down the road (about. 150 metre run) into a small drain. This gully carries leaves and road grit which subsequently blocks the drain causes the water to funnel off onto the pavement or into my garden where the boundary was eroded. As my garden is quite hilly this caused the earth to erode and the muddy water ran into my drive, blockingthe rainwater soak away . I have tried rodding the drain but the blockage continues causing deep water on my drive running towards my front door. Who do I contact or consult on this matter as I feel this is not my responsibility to ensure the road drainage functions properly.
Rosie - 26-Nov-19 @ 4:43 PM
Hello I live in a semi detached house and on the detached side my neighbors rain water is running into my property because they don't have a soakway.i have a soakway and I asked them if they could get a soakway or do something to stop there rain water coming into my property.but they refuse to do anything about it what should I do ??
Jay - 8-Nov-19 @ 11:52 PM
My terraced neighbour recently had work done without consulting me on his front gutter. The builders took out and replaced part of the guttering above my front door without my permission. The work is poor and has been completed with mid-sized guttering and now there is water pouring off my roof down in front of my front door. The builders are refusing to come back to correct their work. Where do I stand? Who is liable to pay to get this put right?
Seadog - 5-Nov-19 @ 4:33 PM
I live in a semi detached home, my neighbours ( not attached side) built a kitchen extension and have joined their flashing to the guttering on my garage wall, without permission. The guttering is now blocked and the water having no where to flow away has settled on my garage roof and rotted the wood causing leaks / holes in my roof. Am I within my rights to ask the neighbour to remove the guttering and provide their own drainage system ?
Coxy1 - 3-Nov-19 @ 7:12 AM
Hi I’m not as young now I’m finding it too hard to keep draines unblocked from plnes cars in my drive windows don’t open for them they come in door windows I’m so fed up I don’t talk to neighbour as she is trouble the tree is in her garden what can I do please thanks wendy
Wendy - 27-Oct-19 @ 1:57 AM
Hi We live in semi detached house and attached garagewith neighbour with shared rain water drainage.now she is blaming on us that due to this rain water your water come to my side whichdamage her garage.
Darsh - 26-Oct-19 @ 7:47 AM
We have a link detached house.On our side we have a garage with a shared wall at the boundary with the neighbour.On the neighbour's side, there is a covered alleyway around 1m wide.This has a sloping roof cover, which drains directly onto our flat roof garage, from where water drains into a downpipe within our garageWe've had a few problems with them recently and now they are suggesting that we are obliged to accept water from their lean to roof because we have a shared garage wall.Is this true? Also, they suggest we have to keep the down pipe cleared at our cost.If they have a right to use our drainage system, are we entitled to ask them to share the cost of any clearing work. Thanks for any advice
Matt - 2-Oct-19 @ 12:57 PM
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