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Neighbour Drainage and Guttering Issues

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 26 Apr 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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[Add a Comment]
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
Irritated- Your Question:
Our neighbour (adjoining garden) has built a lean to off of their shed. The lean to roof ends on the boundary line but they have the roof angled so that any water drains into our garden. Is there anything we can do about this?

Our Response:
There are not really any rules regarding this although you could claim that the water is causing a "nuisance" and report them to your local council. Check the height of the lean to - the rules are that there is a maximum height of 2.5 metres in the case of a building, enclosure or containerwithin two metres of a property boundary.
ProblemNeighbours - 20-Oct-16 @ 11:39 AM
Our neighbour (adjoining garden) has built a lean to off of their shed. The lean to roof ends on the boundary line but they have the roof angled so that any water drains into our garden. Is there anything we can do about this?
Irritated - 18-Oct-16 @ 2:56 PM
A neighbour next door had been allowed to build so many building which was one low level detached bungalow.the council say they did not know he exiting ground level before his development, so have allowed his to change the land controur and raise his ground level and also block up areas of a water course system that he had within his garden.So it seem the council have witnessed water lifting my ground and running like a brook over my garden.Also it seem he had his own building control so then it seems from the council they did not ask for a plan to show where the surface water would taken to.The they have given him permits to run down pipe into a pipe and down to a area which was part of the water course and then piped under his drive and along with water from the road going into that ditch watercourse, that water then run through pipe under his drive and then he had put a pipe with the open end towards my front so then water floods my front.then where had has raised the ground level then compacted down so to direct all water down to lower area alongside and down to low points and corner left low, because my land/garden; drive is the lower down, so he has been a llowed to move all his water onto my place.there is about 8 buildings most with down pipes but it seems directed to run to flower bed areas so to lower points where he has either left opening or trench alongside so that even that water runs onto my place.My drive ground had open up with the amount of water.I have photos showing the water course in his garden but the council say, it is not shown on their plan, but the photo was taken by the council.Even enforcement officer had not seen a building that should have been removed but was never removed and they gave him like two years to get around so he could keep the building. then he had been allowed to buildt a detached double garage at the front of his house, with a roof so high, he then put 5 velux windows in the roof and they council said, it was just to get light into his garage. but then a side enterance was added, the council said so he could get access from the garden, then in the upper roof there not only is 4 of the velux window there is also a very large upper side facing towards the road window.then there are now velux windows down lower on the other side of the roof.So about 6 or more.then a photo was sent by the council to the LGO which it seems to show the inside upper area of this garage roof, which was said to be for domestic storey only.But in the photo the LGO would have seen that the photo had been taken just to show half way up one velux window, so it didn't show the whole and then it didn't show the height inside the upper floor to the top of the ceiling height.the it seems also in the photo you can see a stair case coming up to the upper floor.Now every week someone pulls up and is upper in that upper area.Then light are on.In the summer the velux windows were all open and person up
jack. - 12-Oct-16 @ 3:11 AM
CCBB- Your Question:
Problem: double garage shared with neighbour. Water from joint garage runs into soakaway only side. This is now saturated. Both garages now letting in Water. Roof also has woodworm. Beams are connected through. Solution- changing soakaway to drain and new roof and timbers. Verbally agreed. Now neighbour not proceeding. If drain issue not resolved, water damage and woodworm will worsen. Manhole on neighbours land. What can I do?

Our Response:
If you made a verbal agreement and the work had already started, your only real solution to get the neighbour to pay their share is to take legal action. A solicitor's letter may be sufficient to make them do something. You could try your insurance company but it's unlikely they'll be able to help as the damage seems to have been caused over time rather than a one off incident.
ProblemNeighbours - 10-Oct-16 @ 10:50 AM
I have an old cast iron down pipe that runs directly down the middle of the semi detached property between me and my neighbour. The down pipe needs replacing as it is corroding and has been patched up with duck tape. I have informed my neighbour of this and have asked him to contribute half to the cost of the materials and I have agreed to fit. My neighbour however states that the front downpipe is my responsibility and the back shared downpipe is his responsibility.He informs me that this is on the deeds. The problem is is that I haven't got any deeds as they could not be found when I bought the property 10 years ago - the owner at the time had to pay for an insurance policy to cover us because of this.I am therefore unable to check the deeds to verify this. I find it odd that each property would have responsibility for separate shared downpipes l. I have spoken to a local builder who informs me that both front and back downpipes are a shared responsibility.Have you come across this kind of issue before?I'm happy to pay for the materials if it is my responsibility but have always assumed that it was shared.Would it bereasonable for me to ask my neighbour to show me where it states this in his deeds, for want of me not calling him a liar? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Andy - 9-Oct-16 @ 11:42 PM
At the Gable end of my Terrace house was a single story shop and the owner pulled the shop down. He now wants to build a 3 story house next to my gable end and remove my gutters that have been in situ for over 20 years and put a channel box in my roof to allow rain water to run off his building and onto this box gutter and then down the drain pipe. It seems the local council have given him planning permission. Does planning permission give the neighbour a God given right to remove my gutters and replace with a box channel gutter? Thanks for any advice.
Foxy - 9-Oct-16 @ 8:32 PM
Problem: double garage shared with neighbour. Water from joint garage runs into soakaway only side. This is now saturated. Both garages now letting in Water. Roof also has woodworm. Beams are connected through. Solution- changing soakaway to drain and new roof and timbers. Verbally agreed. Now neighbour not proceeding. If drain issue not resolved, water damage and woodworm will worsen. Manhole on neighbours land. What can I do?
CCBB - 7-Oct-16 @ 11:14 AM
Lisa1986 - Your Question:
My neighbours have had their extension stopped by the council twice and now are re building it in wood now. The problem is their sewage pipe running down from their toilet can now only be accessed through my property. This was the reason it got stopped previously. I have contacted the council again but their lack of timely response means that the extension is nearly complete. My property has also been damaged by the patio and garden has started to fall into theirs as they have dug the foundation so close to the fence. Is this legal? And if I was ever wanting to build an extension (as my pipe is not there) would I be stopped because now the only access to their pipe is through my property?

Our Response:
You need to seek legal advice on this. If the extension contravenes building regs/planning conditions then the council can still take action to get it removed or altered.
ProblemNeighbours - 3-Oct-16 @ 11:35 AM
My neighbours have had their extension stopped by the council twice and now are re building it in wood now. The problem is their sewage pipe running down from their toilet can now only be accessed through my property. This was the reason it got stopped previously. I have contacted the council again but their lack of timely response means that the extension is nearly complete. My property has also been damaged by the patio and garden has started to fall into theirs as they have dug the foundation so close to the fence. Is this legal? And if I was ever wanting to build an extension (as my pipe is not there) would I be stopped because now the only access to their pipe is through my property?
Lisa1986 - 1-Oct-16 @ 9:12 AM
Shanklin58 - Your Question:
My next door neighbours guttering was blown off in a storm. Water comes straight off his roof onto our drive and the linked garage flat roof. I have asked him to repair but is reluctant to do so. Can I ask the council to order him to repair it?

Our Response:
Unless this is a council property, it's unlikely that they can do anything. If politely asking doesn't work, the threat of legal action might be your only choice.
ProblemNeighbours - 27-Sep-16 @ 2:41 PM
Sonny - Your Question:
I have been flooded three times in the past 5 years, I have lived in the property for over 40 years. The last occasion, last week, we noticed that the surface water drain at the back of the house appears to flow under my house to the soakaway at the front, which then overflows and floods into my garage and porch. This surface water drain also takes the water from our neighbours roof, is this correct or should they have their own drain? We are in semi detached houses but our two are not joined.

Our Response:
Sometimes they may be shared. Try contacting your local water company for information about the drainage, you may also be eligible for a discount on your water rates if you have a rainwater soakaway. It might also be worth checking information on the Environment Agency to see what help you can get if your property is at risk of flooding.
ProblemNeighbours - 27-Sep-16 @ 10:17 AM
my next door neighbours guttering was blown off in a storm. Water comes straight off his roof onto our drive and the linked garage flat roof. I have asked him to repair but is reluctant to do so. Can I ask the council to order him to repair it?
Shanklin58 - 26-Sep-16 @ 9:47 PM
I have been flooded three times in the past 5 years, I have lived in the property for over 40 years. The last occasion, last week, we noticed that the surface water drain at the back of the house appears to flow under my house to the soakaway at the front, which then overflows and floods into my garage and porch. This surface water drain also takes the water from our neighbours roof, is this correct or should they have their own drain?We are in semi detached houses but our two are not joined.
Sonny - 25-Sep-16 @ 2:22 PM
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