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There can often be confusion over who is responsible for drain and sewer repair to systems which supply private property


Drain and sewer repair – who is responsible for their repair and maintenance


When a drain or sewer which is connected to a domestic property requires repair, the first question that most people have is who is responsible for the work?


Should your water or sewerage company be taking care of the problem? Or do you need to find a way to fix a leaking drain yourself?


Generally, pipes and drains inside a property’s boundaries are the responsibility of the owner to maintain. Water and sewage companies are responsible for the lateral drains which carry wastewater away from properties and the sewers into which they run.


Repairing a leaking drain on your property

There are two different types of drain on your property – one of which you are responsible for and the other which you are not.


Private drains are those which serve only your property. When a private drain requires repair, then it is down to you to carry it out. You can either attempt to fix the problem yourself or find a specialist to do it on your behalf. You may be covered for this work by your home insurance, so it’s always worth checking your policy or contacting your insurer first.


Lateral drains are those which a property shares with its neighbours. Because these serve more than one property, the repair of these drains – like sewers – is the responsibility of the relevant water and sewerage company. If you are suffering from problems with your lateral drain, then contact them to arrange an inspection or repair.


The repair of a damaged sewer

Water and sewerage companies are also responsible for the repair of damaged sewers for the same reasons that lateral drain repair comes under their remit – because they are a shared utility. If you have any problems with your sewer, such as leaks or blockages, then contact your supplier.


When carrying out an investigation into any lateral drain or sewer repair issues, your water or sewerage company has the right to enter your property to inspect or fix the problem.


Private sewers

Private sewers are found on sites which have a large number of dwellings, such as blocks of flats or caravan parks.


Although the question of who is responsible for drain and sewer repair in such situations can often appear complicated, it is actually rather straightforward.


Whoever owns the property is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the private sewer. If you rent, then the landlord is responsible for drain and sewer repair. If you live on an estate where there are multiple dwellings all owned privately, then all the owners are jointly responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of sewers.


Responsibility for water pipes

Pipes which run water onto the property from the mains supply are the responsibility of both water companies and the property owner.


Water communication pipes are those which carry water from the main up to the boundary of the property. Some of these will feature a stop tap, which marks the boundary of responsibility – water companies are responsible for the pipework between the water main and the stop tap; repairing the pipes which run from the stop tap into the property is down to the owner.


The stop tap itself on the property’s boundary is the responsibility of the water company. Any further stop taps and the communication pipes which run underneath the property are the responsibility of the owner.


As with drain and sewer repair, you should inform your water company when the problem falls under their jurisdiction. When a repair is your responsibility, you can either find a contractor to fix the problem or if the issue is not overly complex, attempt a repair yourself using suitable products from the SylWrap Pipe Repair and Maintenance range.


Still unsure who is responsible for drain and sewer repair?

If you still aren’t sure who is responsible for the pipework on your property or don’t know whether you are connected to a public or private sewer, then there are a couple of ways to check.


The deeds of your property will lay out your responsibilities while your sewerage company will also be able to tell you who must maintain which pipes – legally, they have to make a sewerage map available to you if you ask. Alternatively, you can check with your local authority.

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