Which Drains Are Your Responsibility & Which Drains Are Not

It’s important to know who is responsible for the drains on your property. You need to be aware of this to make sure you contact the right person if you have any issues. Otherwise, you can end up with a clogged or blocked drain with no fix in sight. While, you will often be responsible for any drains on your property, there are times when this is not the case. The main difference that you need to be aware of here is the variation between a drain and a sewer. Most sewers are owned by the public sector, however some are still owned privately. In cases like this, you will need to handle the maintenance yourself.

Different Types Of Drains And Responsibilities

Private Drains

The main type of drain that you are probably familiar with is a pipe that drains water and waste from your home or property. These drains also include the gutters and pipes and are connected to a specific property. As such, they are the responsibility of the landlord or the owner of any property.

Any structure that is used to remove water or waste from a property is classified as a drain. To fix an issue with these type of structures, you will need to contact a drainage contractor. Typically, you, the property owner, will cover the cost of maintenance and repairs.

Lateral Drains

There might also be lateral drains around your property. These are defined as any systems that are outside the property boundaries but are not yet sewers. Essentially, they are the connective pieces that join private drains to the main sewage system.

These drains are not the responsibility of the landlord owner. Instead, the lateral drains are maintained by the local water and sewage companies in the UK. These are divided regionally which means that the team responsible will depend on your location. This includes South West Water, Thames Water, Welsh Water any many others.


Local authorities will typically maintain, manage and repair the sewers if they are causing issues on or near your property. Sewers are designed to collect the water and waste from all surrounding properties. Many of these are publicly owned however there are some sewers that are private. This is typically the case with larger estates that are spread over multiple hectares of land. If this is the case, the owner will be responsible for the maintenance of the sewage system.

It’s possible that you’re not sure whether a drain on your property is private. If that’s the case, then there are a number of steps you can take. First, check with your sewerage company and they should be able to confirm whether they handle your area. It’s possible that your local authority can also provide you assistance here and let you know whether you need to arrange a repair or fix yourself. You might also find the information in the deeds of your property or on a sewer map. Your sewerage company can provide you with the latter and ensure that you have the information that you need.

It’s possible that if your system is not connected to a full sewer system, then you want to change this. You might speak to a local authority about this. However, they will only be able to help if a public sewer is no more than a hundred feet from your home or building. If they do agree to connect your home to the sewage system, you will need to typically pay the costs for repairs, contractions and maintenance. You do have the right to connect to a public sewer with your property, you just might need to cover the cost.

Furthermore, some large properties do not have sewer systems. In rural areas, it’s quite common for homes to have a private cesspool, treatment plants and septic tanks. In cases like this, the owner of the property is once again in charge of arranging and paying the costs of repairs or even replacement parts. If there is an issue, and you own a property with one of these systems, you will typically have full responsibility. However, there are various benefits of this type of setup including avoiding sewerage charges to the company providing your waste removal.

Changing Responsibility

Sewers provide a special option for owners. You might currently have the responsibility of a system on your large estate, but you can pass this onto your local sewerage or water management company. You’ll be able to do this if a sewer or a lateral drain has been maintained and adapted to the standards required by the company. Ultimately, you need to make sure that the sewer or system in question is in a good condition. It must be able to benefit the sewerage system that it will be a part of. All parties responsible for maintenance must agree to this change before you can proceed. You might find that the company refuses to take over your drainage or sewer. If that’s the case, it is possible to appeal this decision with OFWAT.

Can You Be Ordered To Complete Work On Sewers You Are Responsible For?

If you have a sewer on your property that you are responsible for, you might think that you can decide when to maintain or fix an issue with it. However, this is not the case and in reality an environmental health department in your area can demand that you unblock or repair a lateral drain or private sewer. If you fail to complete the work within the time provided, then the company will likely take action for you to make sure that the matter is resolved. However, you will be given the bill at a later date. That said, if you complete the work yourself, you will be able to choose which company completes the work on your drains. You might also be able to cover maintenance and repairs using the insurance plan on your property.

We hope you find this information helpful and that you now understand where your responsibility starts and ends with drains around your home or property.

Not sure if it’s your responsibility? Call 1st Clear Flow for help

If you are unsure about your drainage problems, we offer our drainage solutions in all locations throughout Sussex, including Brighton, Hove, Southwick, Shoreham, Steyning, Lancing, Worthing, Littlehampton, Horsham and Crawley. Follow the links below to learn more about our drainage services in your area.

At 1st Clear Flow, we provide extensive drain services for all our customers. If you think your drains or pipework need servicing, then contact our team today and book an appointment.

Please give us a call on 01903 212392.

For more information on our drainage and pipework services, please see our main Drainage page.

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