Drainage – Who is Responsible?
Many householders mistakenly believe that drains and sewers are the responsibility of the local authority or Water Company. It is important to check carefully your property’s ‘Title Deeds’ to see where drains and sewers are located and discover who is responsible for their upkeep, because carrying out repairs can be costly, and you should be aware of your potential liabilities.
Sewers can be defined as either public or private and your water company is only responsible for sewerage pipes from the point at which they join the public sewerage system. In some cases, your premises will not be directly connected to a public sewer, but will be linked to a shared network of private sewers which later connects with the public system. The water company is also responsible for any shared pipe serving properties built prior to October 1937 or any shared pipework which they have adopted.
About half of UK properties are connected to private sewers and the responsibility for both upkeep and maintenance lies with the property owner. Private sewers include all shared pipes serving properties constructed after September 1937. Often these were not constructed to the same standards as public sewers, so problems tend to occur more frequently. Newer properties are less likely to have low-grade drain and sewer pipes due to tighter building regulations.
Since 2002, house-builders have been required to construct all new sewers to adoptable standards. The government is also considering the adoption of private sewers by water companies, but for the present generally responsibility still lies with the householder. Note that where several properties drain into a private sewer, upkeep becomes the joint responsibility of those properties.
For more on responsibility for drains and sewers click here