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Neighbour Drainage and Guttering Issues

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 15 Oct 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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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
Humi - Your Question:
I have a Terraced house, the rain water has been flowing through the neighbour's house drains for the last 24 years. Last year she called drain cleaners and disentangled our pipes. Now the dripping rainwater is coming through my wall. How can we take action, previously whenever we have tried to speak to her she has been uncooperative

Our Response:
Have you spoken to the company that undertook the work? If your neighbour is refusing to act, you will need to get a surveryor to take a look at the problem. Once it's established what the cause of the problem is you could try your home insurer for advice - they may be willing to pay and/or follow it up with the neighbour if they are at fault. Alternatively, legal action via the small claims court.
ProblemNeighbours - 27-Apr-17 @ 12:04 PM
I have a Terraced house, the rain water has been flowing through the neighbour's house drains for the last 24 years. Last year she called drain cleaners and disentangled our pipes. Now the dripping rainwater is coming through my wall. How can we take action, previously whenever we have tried to speak to her she has been uncooperative
Humi - 26-Apr-17 @ 12:09 PM
Mandy - Your Question:
My neighbor has a gutter with a downpipe that is in my yard, I don't know why it's in my yard as it just drips onto the flagstones. Mine goes into the drain, but theirs just drips onto the yard. This is causing damp to my property and probably theirs. What can I do about this?

Our Response:
Talk to you neighbour first. Check your deeds and ask them to check theirs...there might just be some details about the rainwater drains, whether they're shared and where the entrance points are etc. Maybe at some point you shared a downpipe for example.
ProblemNeighbours - 6-Apr-17 @ 10:27 AM
My neighbor has a gutter with a downpipe that is in my yard, I don't know why it's in my yard as it just drips onto the flagstones. Mine goes into the drain, but theirs just drips onto the yard. This is causing damp to my property and probably theirs. What can I do about this?
Mandy - 4-Apr-17 @ 12:38 PM
Hello there Our drainage runs across the front of our house and our neighbours with the pipes then running underneath our neighbours house to the drain itself. They want to build a wall down the middle of the drive (which will block our car door if we so wish to park parallel to the middle of our 2 drives) but this will cut off our drainage so water will just overflow and actually run into our garage. The builders have tried to day we should legally have our own drainage system to drain the water so they can build the wall. It doesn't sound right to me? Thanks for any advice
Danny - 16-Mar-17 @ 2:41 PM
Paulg - Your Question:
Hi thereMy neighbour have removed their downpipe and replaced it with a length of guttering that now allows all rain water from their house to run along guttering and down my drainpipe.Are they allowed to do this?Regards

Our Response:
Check your deeds. If there was a downpipe on their property, it's unlikely that they will be able to remove it and share yours. Your water company might be able to offer you advice as they'll know how much each drain can cope with etc.
ProblemNeighbours - 15-Mar-17 @ 11:19 AM
Hi there My neighbour have removed their downpipe and replaced it with a length of guttering that now allows all rain water from their house to run along guttering and down my drainpipe. Are they allowed to do this? Regards
Paulg - 13-Mar-17 @ 9:37 AM
Emma C - Your Question:
I wondered if anyone could help please. We have recently bought a new build and should get the keys in 4 weeks. We drove buy today to see four man holes in our front garden to which we were very shocked. We rang the sales person who said we had signed the plans and this was not highlighted to us. There is a further two down the side garden. sHe has obvoulsy skirted over telling us this information! We are fuming, does this mean that it is our responsibility if anyof the six drains are blocked we are liable to pay to have them all unblocked? Not to say the least that six large man holes are going to look awful. If anyone could offer some help or advice it would be greatly appreciated.

Our Response:
Your plans and survey should have highlighted this. Ask your solicitor about it, if you've not exchanged contracts yet etc, there is still time to clarify or back out.
ProblemNeighbours - 22-Feb-17 @ 2:08 PM
Hi, I have an rainwater issue with a neighbour, but no point in putting it up here because there are so many other unanswered problems already on this website. This page would be a lot better if responses were posted giving advice. Just Saying...
Just Saying - 20-Feb-17 @ 8:24 AM
I wondered if anyone could help please.We have recently bought a new build and should get the keys in 4 weeks.We drove buy today to see four man holes in our front garden to which we were very shocked.We rang the sales person who said we had signed the plans and this was not highlighted to us.There is a further two down the side garden.sHe has obvoulsy skirted over telling us this information!We are fuming, does this mean that it is our responsibility if anyof the six drains are blocked we are liable to pay to have them all unblocked?Not to say the least that six large man holes are going to look awful.If anyone could offer some help or advice it would be greatly appreciated.
Emma C - 4-Feb-17 @ 7:37 PM
There is a new development of 6 detached houses being built on land next door to our property...do they have a legal right to run the drains into the manhole on our property?...they will need to dig our garden up. Our property is sold subject to contract & I am worried that this could jeopardise our sale, Please advise me.
Granny Smith - 24-Jan-17 @ 8:47 PM
My daughter has bought a house recently which has a leak inside the ceiling of her utility room. After investigating this I have found the rainwater guttering has been redirected from the outside and through the wall and back into the original position of the gulley thus having guttering inside the property as well as the gulley. This was obviously carried out after the house was built and I believe contravenes building regs. as well as not being mentioned in the survey which was more comprehensive thanthe usual basic mortgage as the drainpipe can be clearly seen disappearing through the brick wall of the utility room.Would there be any redress against the company that carried out the survey in terms of compensation as this has now got to be rectified at a cost to my daughter? Many thanks
Kev - 30-Dec-16 @ 9:27 AM
My upstairs neighbours waste bath water is coming up my shower, wash basin & kitchen sink. What can I do about it?They are council tenants & im an owner occupier
HD - 18-Dec-16 @ 5:22 PM
scotty123 - Your Question:
About 8 years ago my neighbour had a problem with his drains, after having this investigated it turned out that his drains had collapsed, and he was in no financial situation to have then repaired, he was advised by the drain company to ask if they could plumb his drains into mine as a short term fix until he could afford to have his fixed, he had his solicitor write up letter for us to sign giving permission which we did, Now here we are many years later and he has moved out and rented his house to what can only be described as a nightmare neighbour, we have tried talking to the neighbour with no luck, we have tried talking to the home owner but he won't do anything to help seeing as a letting agency manages the property.so any relationship we had has now broken down, my question is this.can I have the "quick fix" reversed? I know I would have to notify him of this but I want to get any facts I can before I go ahead and contact him, or am I legal bound to let him continue to "piggy back" off my property?

Our Response:
You'd need to get proper technical advice on the options for re-routing their drains. Legal action could force the owner to stick to the original agreement?
ProblemNeighbours - 14-Dec-16 @ 11:50 AM
About 8 years ago my neighbour had a problem with his drains, after having this investigated it turned out that his drains had collapsed, and he was in no financial situation to have then repaired, he was advised by the drain company to ask if they could plumb his drains into mine as a short term fix until he could afford to have his fixed, he had his solicitor write up letter for us to sign giving permission which we did, Now here we are many years later and he has moved out and rented his house to what can only be described as a nightmare neighbour, we have tried talking to the neighbour with no luck, we have tried talking to the home owner but he won't do anything to help seeing as a letting agency manages the property..so any relationship we had has now broken down, my question is this.......can I have the "quick fix" reversed? I know I would have to notify him of this but I want to get any facts I can before I go ahead and contact him, or am I legal bound to let him continue to "piggy back" off my property?
scotty123 - 13-Dec-16 @ 1:38 PM
My neighbour has just drilled a hole through her fence and directed the downpipe from her gutter to it, so that the water now runs out on to my driveway. Is she allowed to do this please ?
zoed - 20-Nov-16 @ 2:22 PM
Property damage by work done by 7 tent they accept negligence
Fred - 9-Nov-16 @ 12:56 PM
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