Who Is Responsible For Drain Covers On My Property?

The law in the UK for maintaining and repairing drains and drain covers changed back in October 2011. Before that time, property owners were responsible for repairing and maintaining all drains and drain covers that carried wastewater away and into the main sewer system.

Now, however, the law states that a property owner is only responsible for the drains and drain covers that are within the boundary of the property. This means that you are responsible for any drain covers that are within your boundary and are connected to your property.

This is outlined in the Private Sewers Transfer Regulations. It means that you are not responsible for any drains that connect to a neighbouring drainage system or that are not within your property’s boundary line.

Let’s investigate a few different scenarios of drain covers and whose responsibility they are.


Different Responsibilities Relating To Drain Covers


Here are a few different types of drain cover situations and who is responsible for them:

  • Any drain covers that are inside your property’s boundary and are not shared with any neighbouring households are primarily your responsibility to maintain and repair.
  • Any drain cover that is outside your property’s boundary line or may be shared with a neighbouring household is the responsibility of the sewage provider.
  • Similarly, drain covers that are on the road or street outside your property are also the responsibility of your local sewage company.
  • If the drain cover is on a shared drain, then the local utility company is responsible for repairs and maintenance.

There are also different scenarios that relate to when your property was built. Here are the explanations:

  • If your house was built before 1937, your local council will be responsible for repairing and maintaining the drains and drain covers, but they may recover the costs from you, the property owner.
  • For houses built after 1937, any repairs or maintenance to drains and drain covers that are directly within the boundary of your property, are entirely your responsibility.

If you have any doubts about this, it’s a good idea to contact your local council to find out exactly what your responsibilities are in relation to the drain covers on your property.

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    What If Your Sewer Has Not Yet Been Adopted By A Sewerage Company?


    In some instances, your property may be off grid. This means that your sewer has not yet been adopted by a sewerage company. This can often be the case if you own a unit in a block of flats. These shared properties often have a private sewer or lateral drains that are shared by all the flats in the block.

    In this case, any drains and drain covers are entirely your responsibility or, more often, the shared responsibility of all the individual property owners combined.

    It is also possible to request that the local sewerage company adopts your private sewer or the lateral drains. This may be possible as long as the drains have been well-constructed and meet the standards required by the company.


    How To Work Out If A Drain Cover Is The Responsibility Of The Water Company


    If there is a broken, blocked or damaged drain cover that is outside your property, you may need to find out whether it falls within the responsibility of the local water company or whether it’s the responsibility of a neighbouring property owner.

    One of the best ways to determine who is responsible for the drain cover is to have a CCTV drainage survey carried out. This can determine exactly where the drain cover is within the drainage network and can help you to work out who you need to contact to have the problem fixed.



    Can You Replace The Drain Cover On Your Property?


    It is perfectly permissible for you to replace any drain cover on your property. You may want to do this if the cover is damaged or you want a nicer looking cover that is more in tune with your landscaping.

    However, quite often, it’s not as simple as just replacing your drain cover with a new one, especially if the existing cover is quite old. This is because the cover needs to sit on a frame and it can be quite difficult to find a new cover that fits the frame perfectly.

    Even if you find one that will fit the existing frame, the frame may not be strong enough to support the new cover. This can lead to issues and problems down the track.

    Therefore, if you want to replace the drain cover, it’s far wiser to replace it with a new cover and the frame that the cover was made for. More often than not, this is something that you should get a professional in to do.


    Can You Have More Than One Drain Cover On Your Property?


    It’s more than likely that you will have at least two drain covers on your property, especially if your home was built more recently or after 1970. One drain cover will be used to service the wastewater drains while the other one will be used to service the drains that carry excess surface or rainwater water from your property.

    Alternatively, you might have a soakaway that is used to collect and filter surface and rainwater before allowing it to be absorbed into the surrounding ground.

    On the other hand, if you live in a rural area, you might have a septic tank or cess pit that collects your waste water coming from the bathroom, kitchen, laundry and toilet in your house.


    Final Thoughts


    If you’ve noticed a problem with one or more of the drain covers on your property, you now understand that the repair and maintenance of this drain cover is your responsibility. Therefore, you’ll need to contact a professional in order to get the problem sorted out and repaired.

    However, if the drain cover is on a lateral drain that is shared with neighbouring properties or is outside the boundary line of your property, then the responsibility falls to your local sewerage or water company.


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