Who is Responsible for Shared Drains: UK Guide
Having a blocked or damaged drain can be an inconvenience and can leave many people wondering who is actually responsible for the repairs required. The answer is fairly simple, however, there are exceptions to any rule.
Quite simply, any drains that are within the boundary of your property are your responsibility. However, when it comes to shared drains that are either out in the street or shared between a group of terrace houses, for example, these are the responsibility of the local water company.
Let’s look at a number of different situations so that you can understand this better.
Drains For Detached Houses
If you live in a standalone house, any drains that are situated within the boundaries of your property are your responsibility as these are considered private drains.
In this situation, there will also be lateral drains that run along the front of your home outside of the boundary. These drains carry waste water into the sewerage system and are the responsibility of the water company.
So, for people living in detached homes, the level of responsibility is pretty easy to understand. Any drains within the boundaries of your property are your responsibility while any drains outside the boundary are the responsibility of the water company.
Drains For Semi-Detached And Terrace Houses
If you live in a semi-detached or terrace house, it’s quite likely that there will be a shared drain that both yours and your neighbour’s waste water flows into. These shared drains are also the responsibility of the local water authority.
Therefore, you will only be responsible for repairing any drains that are strictly within your boundary and only contain your waste water before they flow into the shared drain. Any drains that you share with your neighbours are the responsibility of the local water authority.
Drains For Flats Or Apartments
For people who live in a flat or an apartments that is part of a larger complex, the responsibility of shared drains falls to the complex’s management company. More than likely, you will pay an annual fee that covers repairs that need to be made around the complex.
In this situation, all drains that are within the boundary of the entire complex are the responsibility of the complex’s management organisation and repairs will be paid for from the fees that the company collects annually from all the individual property owners.
However, any drains that are outside of the boundary of the complex are the responsibility of the local water authority.
How Do You Know If You Have Shared Drains
The best way to ascertain whether the drain that is causing problems is a shared one, is to call your local water authority. They will have detailed plans that show all shared drains within your area.
If the blocked or damaged drain is a shared one, the water authority will send someone out to assess and fix the damage. However, if the drain is within your boundary and is not shared with anyone else, you will have to contact a drain contractor to have the drain fixed at your own expense.
When Was The Ruling About Shared Drains Changed?
The government changed the ruling about the responsibility of shared drains back in October 2011. This ruling states that the responsibility of shared drains has been transferred from the property owner to the local water authority.
At the same time, the responsibility of lateral drains was also transferred to the local water authority. Lateral drains are those that are outside your boundary and usually located under the road or pavement. These drains carry away your waste water into the public sewer.
What About If Your Property Has A Private Sewer?
If your home has a private sewer, the shared drain responsibilities are different as the sewer is not managed by a local water authority. Private sewers can often be found on sites that have a number of properties such as a caravan park or a block of flats.
In this instance, all the owners of the properties that are connected to the private sewer need to share the responsibility of maintaining and repairing the drains involved.
It’s important to ensure that all drains are well maintained because your local authority environmental health department can give you an order to repair any drains that are not correctly maintained.
In this case, if you fail to comply and repair the blocked or damaged drains within a specified time period, the local authority can step in and carry out the repairs themselves and then send you a bill for the cost of the repairs.
How Do You Know If You’re Connected To A Private Or Public Sewer?
If you’re unsure whether you’re connected to a private or public sewer, there are various ways you can check this. These include:
- Contacting your local water authority who can advise you.
- Checking the deeds that you received when you purchased your property.
- Having a look at the public sewer map for your area that you can get from the local water or sewerage authority.
Back in October 2011, the government created a new ruling that transferred the responsibility of all shared drains from the property owner to the local water authority for properties that are connected to a public sewer. This included the responsibility of all lateral drains that are outside your property’s boundaries.
What this basically means is, all drains that are located within your property’s boundaries and are only used for the property’s waste water are the responsibility of the property owner.
Conversely, all drains that are shared among two or more properties are the responsibility of the local water authority. This includes the lateral drains that are located under the road or footpath in front of your home.
The only exception to this is if your property is not serviced by a public sewer but has its own private one. In this case, any shared drains are the responsibility of those home owners who share the use of them.
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