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Problems With Drains: Who is Responsible for What?

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 12 Nov 2020 | comments*Discuss
 
Drain Blockage Sewer Neighbour

You might have a good relationship with your neighbours, but neighbourhood relationships can often be sorely tested by life’s little problems. One thing that causes many a neighbourhood disagreement is who is responsible for drainage – an issue that you probably don’t even think about until the worst happens and the drains become blocked.

Who is Responsible For a Blocked Drain?

The responsibility for dealing with a blocked drain will depend on the place in the sewer or drain that’s actually blocked. The first thing you’ll need to do is establish whether the blockage is on a public sewer or a private drain.

Public or Private?

The pipe that exits your house is called a drain. When a drain from your property joins with a drain from another property, it becomes a sewer. Sewers can be public or private, and the responsibility for unblocking them if a blockage occurs all depends on whether the sewer is public or private. Typically, it’s not always easy to determine, so you might have to make some enquiries.

A public sewer is a sewer that’s been taken on by a sewerage undertaker, usually the local water authority. Once a sewer has been adopted by a water authority, the maintenance and cleaning, plus dealing with any blockages, is their responsibility. The local water authority (or sewerage undertaker) should have plans of all the sewers they are responsible for.

Private Drains

If yours is the only property using a pipe, it’s a 'private drain', which means that if it gets blocked, you are solely responsible for dealing with the blockage, and you’ll have to pay for it to be cleared by a private contractor.

Private Sewers

If your property and those of your neighbours all share the same pipe, it’s a 'private sewer'. If a private sewer gets a blockage, every household that uses it should share the cost of having the blockage cleared. If there’s a dispute over who’s responsible and it’s causing a problem, contact your local Environmental Health Officers (EHOs).

They have the power to serve a notice on everybody using a private sewer, ordering them to have it cleared within 48 hours. If an agreement still hasn’t been reached and the sewer is still blocked, the EHO will make arrangements for a private contractor to clear the sewer and will bill everyone involved – this is called 'works in default'.

What to Do if your Drain or Sewer is Blocked

If you’re not sure which type of sewer or drain is affected, contact your local EHO. They can come to the property and find out what the problem is, and where, and give you advice on what to do next. They will also be able to tell you whether it’s just your responsibility to clear the blockage, or whether your neighbours need to contribute.

If you know that the blockage is in your private section of drain, rather than in the sewer, you need lift the inspection chamber, if possible, and check whether there’s any backed up sewage. It’s also a good idea to check with the neighbours and see if they have been affected at all, even if the blockage is definitely in your pipe.

If you own the property, you’ll need to call out a specialist drain clearance company if you can't unblock the drain yourself. If you rent your property, it’s the landlord’s responsibility so call them first if you’re a private tenant. If the landlord or letting agent is unhelpful, call the EHO and they should be able to deal with them on your behalf.

What if My Neighbours Refuse to Pay Up?

If you’ve established that the blockage is in the shared sewer part of the pipes and you are all responsible, you should share the cost of having the blockage removed. Unfortunately, some people may refuse to pay or deny responsibility. The first option, if negotiating with the neighbour concerned has reached an impasse, is to contact the EHO. They have experience of this type of problem and may be able to help you reach an agreement.

If there really is no way forward and the work hasn’t been done, let alone paid for, EHO can issue a notice on everyone concerned – but bear in mind that this will push the costs up, as they don’t do it for nothing and will add an administration fee.

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My neighbor complains blockage. And he said it's from our house. Our water runs down as it should. They checked the man hole on our property, done pressure clean and it was quiet for a month or so. Now he complains again. What should I do?
AJ - 12-Nov-20 @ 11:01 AM
My neighbour has concreted over our shared sewage inspection cover in order to stop me coming into his back garden (he told me himself because he can not come into our back garden!!). Is there anything we or Yorkshire water etc can do. Best regards Nigel and Paula.
nigel51 - 18-Oct-20 @ 2:23 PM
My upstairs neighbour has a redesigned bathroom her WC is located across the room from it's origiinal position. The soil pipe travels along a wall and then turns 90 degrees along another wall to reach the drain pipe. I think there must be three elbows used and I don't think there is much of a run. The drain pipe is shared between us and I have never had any trouble with the drains in thirty years. Three years ago when I was on holiday her WC was backing up and I came home to wet carpets etc. I had to suffer three weeks of water dripping through. Eventually she got the Dynorod people to clear the blockage in her soil pipe in her bathroom. She eventually had the join to our drain pipe lowered from the outside of the building to improve the run. Two weeks ago while I was watching TV I heard this terrible noise coming from my bathroom, I could hear my neighbour using her plunger and then I had this sewage backup flooding over my WC and all over my utensils and carpet etc. I phoned Dynorod right away and they came an hour later. The engineer agreed that this was all due to a blockage upstairs. I paid £180 plus an extra £30 tip for vacuuming up this disgusting mess. I also spent £40 replacing the carpet. The proprietor of the house refused to pay me saying they were not to blame. Can anyone advise me where to go from here both financially and making sure this will not happen again. Oh yes, I tried to claim from my Halifax insurance and got nowhere due to exess' for water ingress and they would not pay for Dynorod either.
Jim - 29-Sep-20 @ 8:19 PM
Hi We live in end of terrace cottage , our external pipe connecting to sewer Keeps blocking every few months , already paid hundreds of £ to unblock it , we suspect there could be a fault/damage with pipework underground , another company is coming tomorrow to put camera down to hopefully establish what causing it. Sewer/water comes up in pipe on our side of the house but as far as I am aware it’s all connected underground , couldn’t this be joint responsibility? We are the ones that are getting angry knocks in the door but we are Not doing anything to block it . Thanks in advance
KC - 7-Sep-20 @ 5:23 PM
Hi, My flat is on the first floor at the rear of a block of flats. My neighbour’s flat is on the first floor at the front. He thinks there was a previous leak from my bathroom water pipe which somehow damaged his bathroom. I don’t see how it’s possible for water from my flat to travel to his, especially as all the water pipes from my bathroom seem to exit to the rear of the building. Also his flat is at least 20 meters from mine. Any suggestions?
Jez - 5-Sep-20 @ 5:45 PM
Our neighbours sewer connects to the main sewer via a pipe under my property, they are the sole user of a short sectionofpipe whic runs from their property to the manhole in our garden .This pipe is damaged under our house. I’m not sure if we are responsible for it asour service have no connection to this section. Any advice please
Gp - 26-Aug-20 @ 9:28 AM
Some of the problems others have mentioned might be helped by checking the title deeds and those of the neighbour for any mention of the drain/sewer. Sometimes there are easements that allow you access to fix a problem or stop a neighbour interfering with a pipe, or require them to maintain it. Others might be helped by knowing that ownership of _shared_ sewers transferred to the water companies a few years ago so they might now be responsible for the pipe and have powers to get it fixed. Some house insurance policies include legal protection and if you have to go to court this may pay for it.
Colin - 8-Aug-20 @ 4:20 PM
We have a french drain the old pot ones coming through are garden but nowt comes out of it both sides but when it rains it comes underneath the wall from nxt door theres no way of getting this problem sorted has the pipes are to low it just keeps filling up its half way up the wall will this damage my property people are saying a stream goes under our houses where do we go from here even if I put a pipe to connect to it still will not go how do I sort this it's a nightmare
Josh - 26-Jul-20 @ 10:56 AM
We are living in Hosakote Bangalore rural our area is lot of problems no body solve our Drienage andplease visit sir it's my kind request
Shastri - 29-Jun-20 @ 5:32 PM
Hello I'm owner terraced house with flat roof. Every second house got drainage to collect water from two roofs. Water from my roof goes to neighbor side drain. On Friday 19/06/2020 water started dropping from ceiling downstairs caused stains on the walls and ceiling also floor panels swollen in one bedroom upstairs and living room downstairs. Put Buckets straight away to catch the water. Went on the roof to see what happens. There was big pond caused by clogged drain on neighbor side. Removed all the leaves to unclog the drainage. After couple hours water stopped leaking. Had running dehumidifier over weekend to take moisture away. Despite we had some more rain over weekend walls seems dry no more leaks. Called roof specialist to check the roof, he said that nothing wrong with mine. Send some emails with photos and videos to the landlord nothing back yet. Phone him is well, but he said that he doesn't know about roof drainage. Found on internet that's owner responsibility to keep the drain clean. I've got home insurance but they not covered leak caused by neighbor's drain blocked. Estimated cost for repairs floors ceilings and walls will be about £500 just for material, who gonna pay for this. Can you help me how I can sort it out.
tom - 22-Jun-20 @ 12:00 PM
naliya bund rehti hae garou py pani aa jata hae nali saffkarny waly eid ky eid ya maheo bad apni marzi sy aaty hae nalyou ky underkachra bhara para hae pani ki koi nakasi nhi nazm kuch nhi karty braey mehbani ap sy request hae khakrobo ki sakhti sy dutti lgaey un ko peesssy mat dy jub tak ky duty ada na kary
fakhar - 20-Jun-20 @ 3:40 PM
I wanted to get some advice, I’ve had my kitchen sink backing up with water when the washing machine is on. Also, In my garden there’s been sewage water coming up between my patio slabs but only when the washing machine is on. I’ve tried 2 drain cleaners now down the kitchen sink (Hasn’t worked) as my landlord said it’s my fault for putting grease and fat down the sink (even though I don’t) we cannot find the manhole in our garden and don’t know if it’s been covered. He’s now wanting to charge me a days work to ‘dig up the garden’ because he said it’s my fault. (Not sure why he wants to dig up the garden, maybe to find the manhole) just wanted to know what are my options?
Abbi - 25-May-20 @ 12:09 PM
My neighbour's drain is blocked and backed up and the stench is unbearable. He rarely goes in his garden, as to it is piled high with rubbish and old furniture etc and he admitted himself in the past that he has an issue accessing it. The drainage is so bad that his whole patio is covered in a foul smelling grey sludge. I saw a rat in his garden last year and reported it to the council but so far nothing has been done. He is a council tenant. I have contacted the council on numerous occasions since and they are aware of the issue but my neighbour has refused them access. Yesterday I saw a rat in my own garden and I am unable to sit on my patio or open the windows or door at the rear of my property due to the smell. I have spoken to the council again and they said they're hands are tied, especially during lockdown etc as they can't force entry. Does anyone know what else I can do please? What are my rights legally? Would Thames water or Environment Health have more power? I am at my wit's end. I'm not sure if there are actually any health implications in regards to his drain but the smell actually makes me feel physically sick. Any advise would be greatly appreciated.
Bonesy - 20-May-20 @ 12:32 AM
Hello i would like to ask my friend lives on a mobilehome park in radcliff on trent he has got blocked drains and sewage comming up in his garden and the next door sewage is all over her garden he has reported it to site manger but know joy 5 people have reported it now and know joy there are alot of old people on site it been like this for threedays now so i need help to how do i report it to now please help he can not wash up because the sink is blocked
Ginger - 8-Mar-20 @ 8:30 PM
We share a drive with occupiers of Broxholm Rd with their gardens backingon to the drive. Water always runs from their garden across the drive to us. But now the water is coloured and stinks and is slimy. It looks like drain or sewer overflow. This is getting worse. The smell is bad. Can’t tell where the flood is coming from.
Bella - 4-Mar-20 @ 4:17 PM
I have a football pitch that has a drainage system that keeps overflowing the water travels under the fence and floods our patio lifting the slabs!. Neither the local council or the county council or the football club or a dance club who lease the buildings accept responsibility. I am just pushed from one to the other. I am at my wits end. Any suggestions ?
Cotty - 25-Feb-20 @ 5:17 AM
The neighbour of my friend has built a conservatory over the main sewage drains that run down the street. He didn’t put a support in place over the sewage pipe to take the weight of the conservatory or the conservatory base. The problems with waste backing up have only occurred since the conservatory next door was erected. The sewage pipe under the neighbours conservatory has now collapsed. The pipe is leaking and as the pipe opening is now so small with being collapsed/squashed, waste is backing up into my friends manhole. This has resulted in my friends man hole constantly having to be emptied by the water authority to drain the waste that is backing up.She’s had the garden covered in waste on 4 occasions, the toilet won’t even flush toilet paper away without at least 2 flushes, and she’s had waste come up into the kitchen and spill onto the kitchen floor. The water authority have tried to re bore the pipe but it won’t work as the pipe is too collapsed. They then sent a team of surveyors out who said after physically assessing the situation (a team of about 10 men with all their fancy gadgets) that if they were to re route the pipe out into my friends garden and then put a bend, and pipe back into the neighbours garden, thus closing off the original section of pipe that has collapsed under the neighbours conservatory, it would cause future problems for my friend as the drop is insufficient to drain the waste away and would lead to waste backing up in the new pipe and eventually being a problem later in time for my friend; this was an option the water company were considering until the survey showed the drop to be insufficient. The surveyors told me they would be advising the water company not to consider or follow this option. The water authority then out sourced a different company to try again to re bore the collapsed pipe using a slightly different technique, but that too failed. They have now come back saying they are going to go ahead with the re routing of the pipe into my friends back garden after all and will by pass the collapsed pipe under the neighbours conservatory. When we queried that the survey they had carried out earlier had shown that the drop was insufficient, they then said that they have had another look at the results and think it will be okay after all. (what a coincidence!! Not!: needless to say I smell BS here as this is the easiest option for them!) Now there are several things happening here. Number one, is that the guy next door laid the base of the conservatory straight on the ground, whilst other people in the street had to provide support over their sewage pipe when erecting a conservatory or extension so that the sewage pipe would not be compromised, I assume, squashed or collapsed from any building/conservatory weight added. Number two; my friend lives alone and is not so young. Without me going into detail my friend has had some majorly major additional personal problems/situations during this water com
Smithie - 20-Feb-20 @ 5:24 PM
The neighbour of my friend has built a conservatory over the main sewage drains that run down the street. He didn’t put a support in place over the sewage pipe to take the weight of the conservatory or the conservatory base. The problems with waste backing up have only occurred since the conservatory next door was erected. The sewage pipe under the neighbours conservatory has now collapsed. The pipe is leaking and as the pipe opening is now so small with being collapsed/squashed, waste is backing up into my friends manhole. This has resulted in my friends man hole constantly having to be emptied by the water authority to drain the waste that is backing up.She’s had the garden covered in waste on 4 occasions, the toilet won’t even flush toilet paper away without at least 2 flushes, and she’s had waste come up into the kitchen and spill onto the kitchen floor. The water authority have tried to re bore the pipe but it won’t work as the pipe is too collapsed. They then sent a team of surveyors out who said after physically assessing the situation (a team of about 10 men with all their fancy gadgets) that if they were to re route the pipe out into my friends garden and then put a bend, and pipe back into the neighbours garden, thus closing off the original section of pipe that has collapsed under the neighbours conservatory, it would cause future problems for my friend as the drop is insufficient to drain the waste away and would lead to waste backing up in the new pipe and eventually being a problem later in time for my friend; this was an option the water company were considering until the survey showed the drop to be insufficient. The surveyors told me they would be advising the water company not to consider or follow this option. The water authority then out sourced a different company to try again to re bore the collapsed pipe using a slightly different technique, but that too failed. They have now come back saying they are going to go ahead with the re routing of the pipe into my friends back garden after all and will by pass the collapsed pipe under the neighbours conservatory. When we queried that the survey they had carried out earlier had shown that the drop was insufficient, they then said that they have had another look at the results and think it will be okay after all. (what a coincidence!! Not!: needless to say I smell BS here as this is the easiest option for them!) Now there are several things happening here. Number one, is that the guy next door laid the base of the conservatory straight on the ground, whilst other people in the street had to provide support over their sewage pipe when erecting a conservatory or extension so that the sewage pipe would not be compromised, I assume, squashed or collapsed from any building/conservatory weight added. Number two; my friend lives alone and is not so young. Without me going into detail my friend has had some majorly major additional personal problems/situations during this water com
Smithie - 20-Feb-20 @ 5:22 PM
Hello We have drains in our rear garden which toilet sewage and kitchen water runs into. The drains are blocked so we have sewage running down our pathways. Our drains are old. My neighbour has erected a fence and blocked the access. He says he wants proof that our drains are bad. Which would be the best way to get a report done, Environmental Health or water company? The report will be used in court. Many Thanks
KazzyS - 28-Jan-20 @ 2:54 AM
Just two months after moving into the new house, the back garden at home is very big. I planted the seeds two days ago. Today, the garden was flooded with rain after the heavy rain. This means that these two months have been wasted. Who should I ask to deal with this problem? I found a drain pipe blocked in the back garden.He called the sewage department but said they weren't responsible.
Ella - 14-Jan-20 @ 12:43 PM
In my town house my neighbor and I share a drain, I have issues in my bathroom and need access to their basement. How can I make them cooperate?
Mac - 6-Jan-20 @ 10:49 PM
My neighbour's waste pipe is collapsed runs underneath my conservatory toxic smell is coming from my conservatory,none of my waste goes through this, my house is end of terrace. Who is responsible for this?
Soul - 30-Dec-19 @ 9:43 PM
If my neighbour has blocked the drain on my side which they have done can I doanything or Con tact someone
Iz - 30-Dec-19 @ 5:08 PM
The drain pipe to my sink for my business was removed by my neighbour. I now have to use bucket to wash my hands, this is has been like this for a while now and my room stinks. What right did my neighbour have to remove this drain pipe. The drain went into a drain on the boundary to his property, but my roof downpipe already goes into this same drain. Also all the drain run onto my property to several interceptors etc. Do I have a ground for basic rights to wash my hands as I am having problems with hygiene and not being to wash my hands properly while at work?
parm - 7-Nov-19 @ 10:31 AM
We have recently had our kitchen/diner flooded by our toilet as there was some kind of blockage which then caused the sewage water to come back up whilst we were out. We have had our water board out as they own the piping in which we found out there were two breaks in the drainage pipe. We are private tenants to our property but what we are needing to know is who is responsible for the internal damage. Is it my insurance, my landlords or the water board?
Hay1234 - 15-Oct-19 @ 5:01 PM
My neighbor has their drain pipe resting and emptying into our backyard.We have had problems with them in the past and have had to get the police involved so as they would stop their antics.Now they are doing this and refuse to make right of the situation.My husband is afraid he will damage their pipe while mowing as it is clearly in our yard.(We had a survey done).If damage does occur to it what are the consequences?They could simply shorten it but refuse.Can we take matters into our hands since it’s on our property or do we need a lawyer?
Jewels - 7-Oct-19 @ 2:38 PM
Im having the smell of sewage come in my house from a drain wats my next door neighbours its been happening for months now and every couple of weeks my 2 little boys are poorly with bad coughs and colds i seriously think its because of that before i lived in this housetbey wasn't poorly im sick of the smell im gonna end up falling out ova this its all through my house what can you do when people are ignorant.
Smiga - 2-Oct-19 @ 8:07 AM
My neighbour next door has a crackedundergroundpipe running along the party wall that carries the sewage of the house and because it runs the party wallsewage and toxic mould is infesting my kitchen in the basement. Is the Environmental Health Office responsible for making my neighbour to solve the problem.
maria - 25-Sep-19 @ 7:51 PM
I live in a terrace house. My next door neighbour underground sewage pipe has been leaking for years. It runsunder their cellar and along the party wall and toxic sewage endup under the floor and behind my kitchen fitted units. I haveevidence that theirclay pipe is leaking in several places. In addition to thetoxic sewage I now have an infestation of toxic blackmould. As my neighbour refuses to renew the pipe and the situation is affecting my health to the point that my doctors have advise me that it is no longer safe for me continuing living in my property. Is theEnvironmentalHealth Officeresponsible to force my neighbourto solve the problem?
MARIA - 25-Sep-19 @ 7:41 PM
My neighbour and I share one rain water drainpipe as we live in a semi detached house. Now it was blocked and then found out the underground pipe was totally shuttered 2ft away front the wall. Looking from the front of the house the gully seems to be in the middle of both houses. Are we both responsible for sorting it? Or is it only me?
V - 10-Sep-19 @ 12:55 PM
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