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Blocked sewers– whose responsibility is it to repair?

The flooding of your property is never something that some one wishes to contemplate, so when it does happen the costs of repairs are often expensive and time consuming. Often the impact of the flooding can be lessened, or even prevented altogether, through adequate drainage. It is therefore important to know as a property owner, or tenant, who is responsible for ensuring that the drains are kept clear.

The responsibility for sewers and drains is shared between property owners, the local authority, the Highways Agency and the water and sewage companies. The water and sewage companies will take on most of the burden for maintaining the sewage system. However, they have a reactive obligation to maintain. This means that as long as they attend to the blocked sewer within their timescales and make an attempt to rectify the situation, they will be deemed to have met their obligations.

Property owner’s responsibilities:

The drains that carry household waste are the responsibility of the property owner (or landlord). The responsibility for the drain runs up until the property boundary, at which point there will be a manhole cover.

Local authorities that function as landlords for council houses and are responsible for maintaining the sewage system.

If you have a blockage in the sewage system within your property boundary, your local sewage and water company will be able to advise you about investigations and may be able to help unblock the blockage.

Sewage companies’ responsibilities:

The water and sewage companies are responsible for public sewers, which are found in public spaces and running under roads. In some circumstances they may run through private gardens. If this is the case then the will be permitted a right of access to maintain the sewers, although they will be required to follow a code of practice which they should provide to you.

If there is a blockage in a public drain and you make your local sewage and water company aware and they fail to attend in an appropriate time and/or make an attempt to rectify the situation, and the drain subsequently floods, you may be able to bring a claim against the water company for negligence.  

If you have suffered flood damage as a result of a blocked sewage pipe, please feel free to get in contact with a member of Mercers Litigation team, who will be able to advise you as to whether or not you have a claim.

Written by Edward Capstick – Litigation Solicitor

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