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…
My neighbour connected his sewage pipe line trough my property without my consent.. Is this acceptable..?? What should I do especially with noisy sewage rambling down the pipe from his toilet..???
Nkinga5 - 18-May-22 @ 10:37 PM
Hi, My neighbour connected his sewage pipe line through myproperty without my consent..Is this acceptable...???What should I do especially with noisy water rambling down the pipe from his toilet..
Nkinga5 - 18-May-22 @ 8:17 PM
Can a neighbor attach black tubing to MY 2 GUTTERS w/out asking permission?Which was done.
T. O. - 18-Sep-21 @ 10:33 PM
My neighbor had their fence done few years ago. Since then we had problems with sewage drain blocking but we didn't link it until we asked for a professional to investigate and he found out that the fence post perforated our pipe. She has separated her freehold to two flats and sold the top but she has the freehold of both. She claims that the leaseholder before her replaced the fence and therefore she is not responsible. What should I do? The invoice for fixing the damage is £900 and I feel she should play.
Annette - 13-Aug-21 @ 10:46 AM
Hi we had trouble with the house next door first it was a cannabis farm then we had 18 migrants and now have a family who don’t take responsibility for nothing their back yard slopes down on to our kitchen back wall since they cook a lot and not washed the grease and not done the repairs properly they have a drain on end of property other side which is now causing damage in out kitchen I have damp crawling up the wall and mushrooms growing out of my skirting boards and we are clean ?? but the smell is horrible landlord don’t care or them or letting agent I’m a high risk person who shouldn’t be around this damp help please any advice would be great x
Huey38 - 7-Jul-21 @ 10:49 AM
Me and my neighbour share a gutter, with the down pipe on the side of the property.Water damage has occurred on my side due to poor hanging of the gutter.I wanted pay for it to be rehung so the water will flow to the down pipe - it pools on my side and water spilles into my walls and causes damage. My neighbour has refused to allow this on the basis that it is 40 years old and has never hd a problem, so why bother. I'm trying to sell and at my wit's end.Can I take legal action against them to force their consent?After all, I am paying for the work.
JD - 28-May-21 @ 6:45 PM
My neighbours down pipe overflows and floods the land every time it rains between him and me. It’s also overflows and showers my drive. The problem is the drainpipe in the ground is blocked or has collapsed. He not interested in getting it sorted.
What can I do.
RG - 22-May-21 @ 10:58 PM
Hi, my neighbour has recently had a new roof to there conservatory and new guttering, they have decided to attach their new guttering to my downpipe, their guttering come over my fence and into the downpipe, does anyone know if this is legal?
Cheers in advance
RAZOR - 4-May-21 @ 6:14 PM
My neighbours gutter is over my house over a foot it’s a square gutter he has a down pipe I kerp my gutter clear he doesn’t the gutter broke I told him it’s the mess he needs to clear gutter I’d rather be capped off from him as the other neighbour has a down pipe
Over winter it soaked my down stairs wall badly
He’s done his but again broke the join I don’t want his gutter my side and the constant cost I offered to separate us snd pay he said yes I said I need consent nothing please help I’m disabiled it’s causing me stresss
Ck - 26-Apr-21 @ 3:06 PM
I live in a semi attached home... My neighbors water and dirt comes through the guttering into my yard... I've spoken to her numerous times about it.. Finally abt 2 months ago I put some cement there to block it.... Today she calls me to say I'm very spiteful.... And that I must take the cement out.. I'm living here for almost 30 years..I've put up with it for more than 15 years.. I think it's more than enough.. Please advise... Thank you
Cass - 9-Apr-21 @ 9:09 AM
Hi need help pls.
Just bought a property , its a semi detached and I now realise that my neighbour's waste water and toilet water runs through my property.
Can I ask them to re route so it does not run through my property.
Currently, there waste runs along to my property , joins my waste water then runs out of my property.Thank you
JACKIE - 23-Mar-21 @ 11:51 AM
I live in a Terrance house and my neighbours of which I do not get on with at all, refuse to clean out their gutters.As our shared down pipe is on their property, any water from my gutter is just backing up and overflowing causing damage to my property. Their house actually belongs to a housing association although I am unaware how to find out which.I have tried my local council but with no results
Di - 19-Mar-21 @ 1:29 AM
Neighbours blocked shared guttering after exstenion rain belts down into garden they had no planning permission aswell
Mazatron - 13-Mar-21 @ 12:33 AM
I live in a terraced house. I was informed today by my neighbour that they have a build up of water in their garden which they say is caused by a crack in our wastepipe - although the damage is clearly on the the pipe under their house. I understand that one is only responsible for pipes within their property boundary. Is that right?
OWTH - 8-Mar-21 @ 2:43 PM
We are living in our own private house , on the right hand side there are around 9 or 10 houses that have removed their roof drainage pipes because they dont want to see any water falling from their gardens or maybe because they made a porch hence why they have removed it ,now all the water is coming to our roof drainage pipe with a very high pressure that has now caused very bad damage to our property thats why our house is damp and our electric metre is also damaged. A special team from our electric metre came and even confirmed we have a damp because water is coming inside .Now we are paying money around nearly 1 thousand pounds from our own pockets to Npower and its not fair that we are paying this amount of money because of our neighbours removing their water drainage pipe and causing the damp and damage to our electric metre.
Shaz - 15-Feb-21 @ 1:36 PM
Neighbour has installed a pipe from his garage roof across my garage roof to the shared drain that is on my property. Without telling me or asking permission.My garage roof - timber is now suffering rot.What can I do?We are my Neighbour and myself old people.He is 91yrs. I am81yrs.His son in law appears to be taking care of his home and garden and will not co-operate with me.I am of the opinion that we should sort it out between us.He has refused to give me his contact details, employed a roofer and had some remedial work on my neighbours garage.Neighbours garage roof is higher than mine but his son-in-law says that's my problem. Told me to look after my own garage and he will look after the other.How to proceed!
Jellybean - 12-Feb-21 @ 11:54 PM
I have lived in my present home for over 30yrs.A !Inked detached bungalow.My garage is joined to a similar property next door. This situation has always been problematic!My neighbour is very stubborn but I have always been on friendly terms with his wife. We have therefore managed to coexist on that basis.However, unfortunately his wife is now living in an old people's home as she has dimentia.He is now 91yrs old, still as stubborn,but quite frail also quite deaf which makes communication extremely difficult because of course he doesn't use a hearing aid!
My problem is that my neighbour, who after years of refusing to have his garage re-roofed eventually had it done.He did not involve me in this decisionHe also had a pipe installed on my roof without permission which leads into the downspout pipe on my drive.This is the only downspout for the two garages. The way this pipe is fixed dominates the downspout and is affecting my timber roof.What can I do?
Jellybean - 12-Feb-21 @ 11:35 PM
I live in a semi-detached property and have a down pipe on my side of the boundary that takes rainwater from both my and our neighbours property (rear only). This went to a soak away that did not function and as such it was connected to a pipe that flows to the drain that takes away all other water waste from our address.
1. Is this ok under Uk regulations ?
2. does this constitute a shared drain for the purposes of building extensions
3. Can a request be made of the neighbours to make provision to take away their own rainwater on their own side of the boundary?
Both houses were built in the 1920’s and have each been extended over the years since.
Mr G - 5-Jan-21 @ 6:50 PM
Hi! We live in a semi-detached house, in a line of six houses. A neighbour says he had to get a plumber to clear a blockage in the drain in his garden. The apparent cause was wet wipes. He now wants all six houses to pay the bill of the plumber. Where do we stand with this? We don't flush wet wipes (who does??) so do we have to help foot the bill?
MelD - 1-Jan-21 @ 3:48 PM
My next door neighbors 2nd bath drains into a waste drain into my garden its not been a problem up to now as they are never there and only really use the other bathroom but there house is now up for sale and my concern is that if that bathroom keeps getting used my garden is going to end up with there water waste and bubbles....my question is , is this actually aloud by law and what could I do about this as I belive the new buyers wont even no about this
Dannybetto - 16-Nov-20 @ 10:40 AM
I live on semi detached house with what was a joint first floor roof guttering. Neighbour cut the guttering added stopper to my end and built a extended conservatory glass roof their side I've noticed that rain water is sitting high and still on my guttering and naturaly flows to the stopper side . what should I do they are not very friendly and theynever informed me when stopper was added. Canstopperbe removed should notthe builder have added a down pipe between conservatory and my dividing outside wall
Mani - 11-Nov-20 @ 1:12 PM
My neighbor replaced her guttering sometime ago , as a result it is not joined up to my existing guttering ,which means when it rains the water all runs into my property and as a result my bedroom wall has become damp , I spoke to her about it but she has done nothing , her guttering is a few inches over onto my property ... should she be providing a downpipe and drain for the water to go into instead of my property ?
Lin - 6-Nov-20 @ 1:27 PM
I live in a terraced house...the water drains of the roof into a shared hopper with my neighbour the drainpipe is on their property. (It is cast)Who is responsible for replacing it?
Nutty - 29-Oct-20 @ 5:31 PM
My new neighbour has had a tarmac drive laid by dubious workmen who only dug out the edges of his drive and laid a new skin of tarmac over the existing tarmac and the edges. I had a block paved drive laid shortly after by a reputable firm. It replaced my crumbling tarmac drive. During the recent heavy rains my neighbour drive, which it not level by any means is now draining onto my drive leaving large deposits of water. Whilst they drain away into my drive I do not want any damage causing. I have notified my neighbour who has yet to contact me. What do I do next?SAT
Jane - 4-Oct-20 @ 9:36 PM
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 ?