To start with, let’s draw the distinction between drains and sewers. The drains and lateral drains are the systems of pipes that take waste water away from a private or business property. These will feed this waste into the sewers, which are generally outside of the property’s boundaries. These sewers will collect the waste from a number of properties. There are a few exceptions to this. If the property is a long way from any sewerage system and it is not feasible to connect it, then it may have its own septic tank, treatment plant, or cesspool. These are the personal responsibility of the owner of the property. However, in certain cases, the local water company may take it on if it is in their interest in managing the wider sewerage network. This will vary from case to case.
Where does my responsibility start and stop?
The owner is responsible for any maintenance on drainage or sewerage system elements that fall within the boundaries of that property. For most people, that will mean the system of drains and lateral flow drains rather than the main sewers. Information about this can be found in the deeds of the property or from the local Water Company, as described here: If any blockage is outside of your property, then the company responsible should be contacted.
Blockages and repairs inside the boundary remain the responsibility of the owner. In some instances, local authorities can insist that you carry out repairs if they are causing problems, such as persistent blockages that may affect nearby properties. However, with modern methods of CCTV inspection and drain lining rather than digging up and replacing parts of the system, it doesn’t need to be the major disruption that it once was.
For information about these methods, specialists such as www.wilkinson-env.co.uk/sewer-repairs-drain-lining-concrete-cutting/drain-repairs/drain-repairs-wolverhampton can provide advice on sewer pipe lining Wolverhampton and elsewhere. It may be that any building insurance you have will cover this. There is also specific insurance available for drains and sewers, so it is always worth checking beforehand.
This is a general guide to drain and sewerage responsibility but it should always be kept in mind that local bylaws can apply and there can be different agreements between local authorities and the water companies. Before proceeding with any work, you should always check with the relevant authorities.