Private Drainage Laws – Blocked & Faulty Drainage Drainage law is often A drain is a single pipe, which removes sewage and/or rainwater from one premise confusing, but the and any associated buildings. A drain is still a drain even if it goes past the boundary of your following is a guide to property until it joins a sewer. who is responsible. A sewer is a pipe taking sewage and/or rainwater from two or more premises. Sewers Did you know may be either Public or Private (see below). All you are public sewers are the responsibility of the local responsible for water company, Northumbrian Water. the maintenance, A public sewer carries waste from two or more clearing and properties built before 1st October 1937 (with repair of your exceptions), however some sewers built after sewer & that date may have been adopted by the drainage system water company. They are usually found under from your highways but some public sewers can be property to found in the grounds of private houses. where it connects to the public sewer owned by Northumbrian Water. This may include not A private sewer is a sewer constructed after only drains on your property but also drains 1st October 1937. A private sewer is normally that lead from your property under your the joint responsibility of every household that garden, neighbour’s property, paths and roads. feeds into it. It may still be a private sewer (Ignore boundaries such as fences and walls under the public highway, path and or when drainage is involved) If a drain is shared adjacent properties until it joins the public between several houses it is the responsibility sewer. of all owners of the properties that drain through that part of the system. A blockage or fault is the responsibility of all households Knowing who is responsible for maintaining and clearing blocked drains and sewers is one from the blockage upstream of the of the hardest parts of drainage work. It is problem. important to understand the different types of ‘pipework’, because the responsibilities are From time to time things can go wrong. The different with each type. diagrams on the next page give a simple overview of various types of drainage systems. The coloured lines indicate which property or properties are responsible for which part of the system. Direct System With the single or direct system each property is responsible for their own individual drain system up to the connection with the main public sewer. Link System The other two diagrams are the most common type of drainage systems known as a link system. This is when drains from several properties link together before entering a public or private sewer system. The local water company has adopted and is responsible for sewer systems that were built before 1st October 1937. After that date link system drains usually run into what is known as a private sewer before connecting to the public sewer. If there is a fault or a blockage on a link system between the public sewer and your property, it is the responsibility of every household which drains into the system, whether the fault is on your land or not, from the fault back up stream. See diagram below. If there is a fault in the public sewer it is the responsibility of the local water company, Northumbrian Water. If there was a blockage or a fault between property C and D as in the diagram above, the law states that it is the responsibility of all the households from the blockage up stream. The properties responsible in this case would be properties A, B and C as they all run into the fault. Property D is not involved as his property runs free. See diagram above. If you would like further information please contact us on 01325 388304 Or email Housing.firstname.lastname@example.org Private Drainage Why does my council tax not cover me for the upkeep of drains? Frequently asked questions. The local authority do not own any drains or sewers, except those serving their own premises. They are responsible for highway drainage but this is separate from Will Darlington Borough Council clear drainage of buildings blocked drains? Darlington Borough Council do not provide a drain I am still not sure if I am responsible clearing service to private or commercial premises. You for what is wrong, can you help? can contact a private drainage company who will come We will be happy to advise you as to your legal and clear the blockage. Many companies advertise in the responsibilities and can visit you to assess the problem. yellow pages. You should always check their charges and what exactly they will do before authorising them to do the work. Can I contact you to request help or Council tenants should contact Customer Services on advice? 01325 388542. We will be happy to advise you as to your legal Housing association tenants and private tenants should responsibilities and can visit you to assess the problem if contact their landlord. required. Will Darlington Borough Council How to reduce the possibility of repair faulty drains? further blockages Darlington Borough Council do not provide a drain repair • Regularly flush basin/bath/shower pipework with service to private or commercial premises. You can contact disinfectant to clear soap residue a private drainage company who will come and repair the • Keep objects such as combs, bottles, toys away from fault. Many companies advertise in the yellow pages. You where they could fall into the toilet. should always check their charges and what exactly they • Don't flush away disposable items such as nappies, will do before authorising them to do the work. baby wipes, condoms,cleaning wipes, and sanitary Council tenants should contact Customer Services on towels. 01325 388542 • Keep drain grids free of leaves, moss and regularly wash Housing association tenants and private tenants should down with hot water and disinfectant. contact their landlord. • Do not dispose of food scraps down the kitchen sink. Pull scraps out of the plug hole, don't poke through. I have established a blockage on a • Try to avoid disposing of cooking fat down the drain. If private sewer serving my property there's no alternative, mix with very hot water and plenty of detergent. and my neighbors, what can I do? • Don't overdo the use of soap powder when using your It is the joint responsibility of you and your neighbors to washing machine. clear the blockage regardless of whose land the blockage is on. You must therefore jointly arrange to have the Sewers are not the place for: sewer cleared and agree how you share the costs. • Unwanted oil and grease - they may be liquid in a warm kitchen but they quickly solidify and cause My neighbour is refusing to repair or blockages when they enter a cold sewer. • Medical supplies - colostomy bags, bandages, unblock a drain what can I do? incontinence pads, syringes, medicines. Unfortunately, the only way costs can be shared out, if • Chemicals - other than those designed for use in neighbours will not agree to pay their share, is by the kitchens and drains. council serving a legal notice on all persons responsible. The notice has to give persons at least 48 hours to clear Instead you should: the blockage before we clear it ourselves and all parties • Wait until cooking fat solidifies and then put it into a will be charged for the work plus our costs. This will be container and place in the bin. more expensive than getting the repairs completed • Pour cooking and engine oil into a strong container yourself. before disposal. • Keep a separate bin for bathroom waste such as cotton Why am I responsible for drainage buds, cotton wool and packaging from sanitary and problems that are not on my land? other bathroom products. Unfortunately, drainage law is not dependent on who owns the land which the problem is on. It depends upon How can I contact you? who drains into the private sewer upstream of the If you would like further information please contact us blockage or defect. If your drainage waste goes through on 01325 388304 that pipe you may be partly responsible, irrespective of Or email Housing.email@example.com where the problem is.