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  1. Blog
  2. Who is responsible for drain covers on my property?
Add value to your home
09 October 2023

Who is responsible for drain covers on my property?

Kimberley Taylor
Writer & Researcher

Table of contents

  1. 1. Who is responsible for drain covers on my property?
  2. 2. Key examples
  3. 3. Off grid properties
  4. 4. Replacing your drain cover
  5. 5. Multiple drain covers on one property
  6. 6. Drains versus sewers
  7. 7. Repairs to drains versus sewers
  8. 8. Who is Responsible For a Blocked Drain?
  9. 9. How to find out who's responsible for maintaining the drains
  10. 10. Summary: Property boundaries are key!

Being a property owner comes with a lot of responsibility, especially when it comes to maintenance and repairs. But sometimes, it can be difficult to determine exactly where the responsibility lies. Drain covers are a perfect example of this. If your drains are used by other properties as well as your own, who's responsible for maintaining them? Who covers the cost of repairs?

This article will cover everything you need to know about drain covers and private drains both inside and out of your property boundary. Let's dive in!

Who is responsible for drain covers on my property?

Before October 2011, it was the property owner's responsibility to repair and maintain all the drains and drain covers that carried wastewater into the main sewer system.

However, in October 2011, the Private Sewers Transfer Regulations outlined that property owners are only responsible for drains inside the boundary of their property. This also includes any drain covers within the boundary and connected to the property. This means you're not responsible for any drains connecting to a neighbouring drainage system.

Key examples

  1. You are responsible for repairing and maintaining any drain covers inside your property's boundary that aren't shared with any neighbouring properties.
  2. Sewage providers are responsible for drain covers outside your boundary line or shared with a neighbouring property.
  3. Sewerage companies are also responsible for drain covers on the road outside your property.
  4. The local utility company is responsible for repairing and maintaining drain covers on a shared drain.
  5. The local council is responsible for repairing and maintaining drains and drain covers for properties built before 1937, but the property owner may have to cover the cost.
  6. If there is a blocked drain or damaged drain cover outside your property, the responsibility could fall either on the local water company, or the neighbouring property owner. To determine who's responsible, a CCTV drainage survey is often carried out. This will outline where the problem is so you know who you need to contact to fix it.

Off grid properties

Off grid properties refer to properties that have not yet been adopted by a sewerage company. For example, apartment blocks often have private sewer or lateral drains that are shared by all the flat owners in the building. In this case, the drains, drain covers and the sewers are the responsibility of all the individual property owners combined.

If a sewer or drain has been constructed or improved to the standards required by the water company, you can ask your water or local sewerage company to take over or adopt a private sewer or lateral drain. If the sewerage company is happy that adopting the sewer will benefit the overall sewerage system, they'll most likely approve the request. Everyone involved in maintaining the lateral drain or sewer has to agree to the responsibility being transferred to the sewerage company.

The water and sewerage companies have an obligation to provide public sewers to ensure the surrounding area is drained properly.

Replacing your drain cover

You're legally allowed to replace any drain cover on your property, whether that be for maintenance or aesthetic purposes.

However, finding the right cover for your frame is really important, otherwise it can lead to issues further down the track. The existing frame also needs to be strong enough to support the new cover. Most property owners will seek professional help to replace their drain cover, just to make sure everything is fitted properly.

Multiple drain covers on one property

Most properties will have more than one drain cover. One is used to service the wastewater drains, while the other services the drains that carry excess water (surface or rainwater) from the property.

Some properties may have a soakaway, which is used to collect and filter surface and rainwater before it's absorbed into the ground. Properties in rural areas may sometimes have a septic tank or cesspit that collects waste water from the house.

Drains versus sewers

A drain refers to a pipe that drains water and waste from a building, as well as any other buildings that belong to it. The lateral drain is a length of pipe that carries wastewater away from your property to a sewer. It's usually located outside the boundary of your property under a public road or pavement.

On the other hand, a sewer collects water and waste from the drains of multiple buildings. Water companies publicly own and maintain most sewer systems, but there are still some privately owned sewers. If you aren't connected to a sewer, you don't have to pay sewerage companies any charges.

Repairs to drains versus sewers

You have to maintain and repair your private drains including your drain covers, and will have to cover the costs of the works yourself. You're allowed to choose which company you want to get the work done, or use insurance to pay for work on private drains.

In some cases, for example if your drain is causing a blockage, your local authority or environmental health department can order you to replace or repair a private drain. The local authority will also be able to carry out the work themselves and then charge you for it.

You're not responsible for the lateral drains you share with a neighbour. These are the responsibility of your water company.

Most sewers are maintained by local water companies. Your water company will have the right to enter your property if it needs to repair, maintain or inspect the sewer.

Who is Responsible For a Blocked Drain?

A blocked drain is not always the property owner's responsibility. It will depend on where the sewer or drain is blocked, and whether the blockage is on a public sewer or private drain. If you're unsure, you can contact your local EHO, and they'll tell you who's responsible for clearing the blocked drain and who needs to contribute to the cost.

In some circumstances, you may have to pay for repairs to a public drain. A leak on your property may result in subsidence or create a sinkhole, which could cause some real damage to the shared drainage network or public sewer. In this instance, the wastewater company may be able to charge you to cover the cost of repairs.

How to find out who's responsible for maintaining the drains

There are a number of ways to find out who's responsible for maintaining your drains. You could check the deed to your property, or talk to your local water authority to get access to a public sewer map. Check out one of our previous blogs to discover how you can find all sorts of information about your property.

You could also get a drain mapping survey, which gives you a detailed map of the drain network, as well as notes from the engineer, a video feed and time-stamped images.

Summary: Property boundaries are key!

Maintaining and repairing drains can be a tricky issue if you don't know where they lie within your boundary. Responsibility largely depends on where the drains are located, whether or not they're shared, or if they're causing a blockage.

If you're unsure, it's always best to seek professional help, or get a drain mapping survey to figure out exactly what you need to do.

Staying on top of maintenance and repairs is a great way to maintain or even add to your property's value. To find out the value of your home right now, you can use our Instant Online Valuation Tool today! Check it out here.

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