Who is Responsible for Blocked Drains?

A Guide to Drain Blockages – Know Your Rights and Responsibilities

Dealing with a blocked drain? That sinking feeling in your stomach is all too familiar. But before you panic about who’s going to pay for the mess, let’s clear the murky waters of drain responsibility. Which starts with the question: Who is responsible for shared drains?

Drainage systems are a hidden world beneath our feet, and knowing who owns what can feel like navigating a maze. With over 20 years of experience unblocking drains across Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, and North London, the Drainflow team has seen it all.

We understand the frustration homeowners feel when dealing with blocked drains and the confusion around who’s liable. That’s why we’ve created this simple guide to help you determine your rights and responsibilities when it comes to drain blockages.

Let’s take a look at the different types of drains, who’s in charge of them, and what to do when things go wrong.


Who is Responsible for Blocked Drains? It All Depends Where They Are

Who foots the bill for clearing a blocked drain isn’t always straightforward. The answer depends on the type of drain and where it’s located:

1. Your Drains: Inside Your Property Boundary

As a homeowner, you’re usually responsible for the drains located entirely within your property’s boundaries. This includes pipes that run from your sinks, toilets, and showers to the point where they connect to a shared or public sewer.

What if I have a septic tank?

Rural properties may have private sewage systems like septic tanks or cesspits. In this case, you’re responsible for maintaining and repairing the entire system, including the connecting pipes.

2. Shared Drains: Flats, Semi-Detached, and Terraced Houses

Sharing walls often means sharing drains. If you live in a flat, semi-detached, or terraced house, it’s likely your wastewater flows into a shared drain with your neighbours. So, who is responsible for shared drains when they get blocked?

Semi-Detached and Terraced Houses:

Flats and Apartments:

  • Management Company’s Responsibility: -The management company or landlord of the building is usually responsible for all shared drains within the apartments’ boundaries. This is typically covered by your service charge or maintenance fees.
  • Water Company’s Role – Once the wastewater leaves the apartment premises and enters the public sewer system, it becomes the responsibility of your local water company.

How Can I Tell if My Drain is Shared?

Spotting a shared drain isn’t always easy. Sometimes, it’s as simple as checking your property deeds or lease agreement, which may outline your drainage responsibilities. But if you’re still unsure, don’t worry – there’s a simple solution:

Who's Responsible for Blocked Drains?

Call Your Water Company:

Your local water company has detailed maps of the drainage system in your area. They can quickly determine if a drain is shared (and their responsibility) or if it falls within your property boundaries.

Why is it Important to Know?

Knowing who’s responsible for a blocked drain is crucial. If it’s a shared or public drain, your water company will send someone out to assess and fix the problem. But if it’s your drain, you’ll need to call in a professional drain clearance team like Drainflow to get things flowing again.


What About Lateral Drains on my Property?

Think of a lateral drain as the link between your property and the public sewer. These pipes carry wastewater from your private drains, often running beneath public roads or footpaths.

Who’s Responsible?

While lateral drains might sometimes sit within your property boundary, they are typically the responsibility of your water company. This means that if there’s a blockage or damage to the lateral drain, the water company will handle the repair.

Manhole covers belonging to public drains usually have the name of your water company clearly marked on them. This is a good indicator that the drain (and any issues with it) is their responsibility.

Remember – Even if a public drain or manhole cover is located on your property, it doesn’t automatically make you responsible for its upkeep or repairs.

When in Doubt, Ask:

If you’re unsure whether a drain or manhole cover is public or private, contact your water company for clarification. They can quickly determine who’s responsible and take the necessary action to resolve any drainage problems.


Need Your Private Drains Unblocked? Drainflow is Here to Help

Blocked drain got you down? Don’t let it disrupt your life. Drainflow is your local expert for fast, reliable drain clearance.

Why Choose Drainflow?

  • 20+ Years of Experience – We’ve been tackling drain blockages for over two decades, so we’ve seen (and cleared!) it all.
  • No Call-Out Fees – You only pay for the work we do, not for us to show up.
  • 24/7 Emergency Service: -We’re here for you whenever disaster strikes, day or night
  • One-Visit Fix – Our goal is to get your drains flowing freely on the first visit, saving you time and hassle.

Trusted by Homeowners and Businesses Alike

From minor blockages to major emergencies, we’ve helped countless residential and commercial customers get their drains back in working order.


Don’t wait for the problem to get worse. Call Drainflow today on 01525 718500 and let our expert team take care of your blocked drain quickly and efficiently.