Your drains are blocked and you want to know who’s going to sort this mess out. So, who exactly is responsible for blocked drains?
Well, it might be you.
If drains are within the boundaries of your property, the responsibility for maintaining and unblocking them is usually yours. If you lift the drain inspection chamber and discover a blockage somewhere within your boundary lines, you must clear it or pay a contractor to clear your drains for you.
Did you know that Environmental Health can order that you unblock your drains if you refuse to? They can also order that you carry out repairs or replacements to your private drains if they feel they aren’t fit for purpose. If you’ve extended your home but not improved the drainage, it could mean you’ve increased your property’s capacity beyond the capabilities of the existing drainage system.
Who is responsible for blocked drains if you rent?
If you rent your property, then the responsibility falls to the landlord or letting agent. Your tenancy agreement should detail who is responsible for which area of maintenance. Landlords are usually responsible for maintaining the structure and exterior of the home. This includes drains and pipes.
When it comes to minor blockages, the landlord should be taking care of it if you need professional drain maintenance.
What about if you share drains/sewers?
Although you are responsible for maintaining or repairing any drains inside your boundary lines, this changes when you share drains with your neighbours. Post-October 2011, most shared drains are now considered public sewers. This makes them the responsibility of the water company and homeowners have no liability to maintain them.
How do you know if it’s a private drain or a public sewer?
The true identifier of whose responsibility it is is the location of the blockage. For example, your wastewater will travel through multiple pipes in your home. It goes down to an outlet pipe that carries it away from your property. It will then connect with a public sewer that is attached to waste pipes from other nearby properties. This then carries waste away to the larger public sewers. The blockage is your responsibility if it’s in the pipe before it joints the shared waste pipe. It’s most likely the water company’s job if it’s anywhere else.
And then there are private shared sewers…
You might have a private sewer if you live on a site with multiple properties, like a block of flats or a caravan site. If a private sewer is the responsibility of the property owners, it’s an individual arrangement. They should have drawn up an agreement about whose responsibility it is to maintain these private sewers and how costs are distributed. Otherwise, the freeholder or management company appointed for the area are responsible for the maintenance of blocked drains and sewers, like in a block of flats.
If your drains are blocked and you you need advice about who is responsible for getting them fixed, why not give us a call and we’ll see how we can help. We can unblock your drains often on the same day, for a flat fee.