Drainage - Responsibilities:
The laws relating to sewers and drains
have changed, and as a result this FAQ is designed purely as a
guideline on who to contact as a general rule. Resolving problems
relating to drains and sewers can be time consuming as it is not always
apparent precisely what is the cause of the problem, although the use of CCTV can aid this process.
There is however one important factor that will reduce the number of
blockages that occur in the first place and this is taking care of what
items are actually pushed, poured or flushed down a drain or sewer. The
following items should never be put down a drain.
Cement, rubble, concrete, stones, engine oil, chemicals, fats,
newspapers, magazines, nappies, sanitary products and other bulky items.
As of October 1, 2011 property owners are no longer responsible for
certain sewer pipes that connect their homes to public sewers. New
legislation transferred responsibility for these pipes, called private
sewers and lateral drains, to the Sewerage Companies. Property owners were often
unaware that they were responsible for these pipes until they faced a
repair bill, causing confusion and leading to disputes between
neighbours. The Government wants clear ownership and better long-term
maintenance for the sewer network.
There are now only public
sewers (owned and maintained by the sewerage companies) and private
drains (the responsibility of property owners).
The owner of a private property is
responsible for their own drains within the curtilage (boundary) of
If as a house owner you are unaware as to whether
you are on a private drain or sewer, then you should check with
Sewerage Company prior
to calling out a contractor.
The example shown below may help to clarify this situation:
The Main Sewer.
generally the responsibility of the sewerage undertaker, normally your
local water authority. Should you encounter any problems with the main
public sewer or drains, then in the first instance you should contact
your local water authority.
designed to take the surface water from roads and backstreets. They are
not designed to take foul water. Any problems relating to these drains
i.e. that they are blocked, overflowing or giving off odours, should be
reported to the Highways Department at your Local Council Offices or
Properties connected to a
Cesspit, Septic Tank, or a Private Sewage Treatment Plant.
Privately-owned septic tanks and cesspits and their connecting pipework, large multi-occupier commercial sites, and sewers that carry water directly to a watercourse will not transfer.These are
private drainage systems and as such the responsibility for such systems
fall entirely on the householder(s), and are not the responsibility of
Sewerage Companies, Local Water Authority nor the Council. The maintenance of these
systems and the emptying of them are entirely down to the householder(s). However it may be the case that one such system serves
more than one property. Where this is the case, each householder is
responsible for his or her own drains until the point where it connects
into a common part of the system. Any works or maintenance that are
required to these common parts are the joint responsibility of all
householders served by the system.
Private Pumping Stations
Private pumping stations will not be transferred immediately, but will transfer by October, 2016. This will give sewerage companies time to find and survey all these stations, and to work out what works are required to enable them to be adopted.
What happens if I
don't clear the blockage or carry out repairs?
or Borough Council has various Public Health powers under several Acts
of Parliament which enable it to require, by formal legal notice, the
clearance of any blockage or the undertaking of any necessary repair
works. Failure to comply with formal legal notices is an offence and can
lead to prosecution. The works may be carried out by the Council in
default and the costs recovered from those responsible.
The following information summarises your rights and obligations
as a tenant or home owner:
How the law affects you:
It is important to understand the
different classifications of pipework. Responsibilities are different
with each type of pipe.
carries waste and/or surface water directly from one house into
a public sewer.
public or main sewer is part of the network of publicly owned foul
or surface water drainage systems. These systems are managed by the
sewerage undertaker and accept the flows from the smaller private
drains or sewer adopted by the sewerage
undertaker (normally your local Water Authority).
If you own a house you are responsible to clear and repair the
drains, gutters and rain water pipes.
If you are a tenant the landlord is responsible, but depending on
your tenancy agreement, the landlord may pass on the costs to you.
If owners of houses fail to meet their responsibilities, the
Environmental Health Service may serve a statutory notice to ensure
that the necessary work is carried out. If the work is not carried
out, the Council will carry out the works. All costs incurred in
carrying out the work plus an administration charge will be
recharged to the persons responsible.
The Sewerage Undertaker (normally your local water Authority) is
responsible to clear and repair all public sewers.
Is the effluent or foul water that
passes through the sewer or drain