Ever wondered who needs to foot the bill for your drain maintenance or repairs? LDF provide you with everything you need to know about drain responsibility and legislation here.

“It’s a question we’re often asked here at London Drainage Facilities”, says LDF’s Managing Director Danny Fuller. “We thought we’d outline who exactly is responsible for maintaining and fixing your private drainage systems and sewers.”

Most of you will already be aware of the difference between a private drain and a lateral drain.

  • A private drain is a pipe that carries waste water away from an individual property, and is dedicated to that property.
  • A lateral drain is the part of your drain that lies outside of your property boundary.

It’s also important that we highlight the differences between a private sewer and a private drain:

  • A private sewer is a pipe that removes waste water that serves more than one property but lies within the property boundary (either full or in part).
  • A private drain is a pipe carrying the waste water away from one individual property via a dedicated pipe. Initially, it usually connects to a private sewer to start with. Nearly every property has a private drain, although some buildings, particularly blocks of flats, will often share drains.

Up until just four years ago, the property owner was usually responsible for their private drain and private sewer. If the sewers were shared, neighbours needed to liaise and agree to divide the cost of repairs and maintenance between them.

But government legislation introduced in October 2011 now specifies that water companies are responsible for private sewers but not private drains. If a pipe serves just one property, the property owner will need to arrange the maintenance or repair and pick up the bill; if a pipe serves more than one property and is therefore classed as a sewer, it is the responsibility of the water company.

To clear things up, lateral drains remain the sole responsibility of the water company.

If you’re not sure where your responsibility begins and ends, we would recommend visiting your water company’s website, which should contain examples of pipe layouts for different kinds of properties. The company should also be able to send you detailed maps of all of the sewers and pipes in their catchment area on request.

If you have taken out an insurance policy that’s designed to cover the costs of underground pipe repairs, check the wording to make sure it still meets all of your requirements. If you took out the policy prior to October 2011, its terms should have been amended to reflect the changes in legislation.

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