Who is Responsible for Blocked Drains?

If Your Sink is Blocked, Who Should Pay to Unblock it?

Drainage is a complicated system, so – you can guess what we’re going to say – ownership of a blocked drain is complex too. The Drainflow team know from experience how difficult and infuriating it can be to ascertain who is responsible for blocked drains, so we’ve created a brief guide to drain ownership and blockage responsibility.


Table of Contents

  1. Homeowners’ Drainage Responsibilities
  2. Shared Drainage Responsibilities
  3. Landlords’ Drainage Responsibilities
  4. Lateral Drains and Sewers
  5. Manhole Covers

Who is Responsible for Blocked Drains?

Who pays the bills for unblocking drains will depend on the kind of property you live in, and whether or not you’re a homeowner.

1. Homeowners’ Drainage Responsibilities

As a rule of thumb, drains that are situated within your property boundaries will be your responsibility if there is a blockage. The drains that a water company has responsibility for normally sit on common land, in order not to encroach on private property.

It may be the case, especially if you live in a rural property, that you also have a private sewer, in the form of a septic tank or sewage treatment plant. This is also the responsibility of the owner of there should be problems requiring professional attention.

At Drainflow we always recommend that homebuyers carry out a pre-purchase CCTV drain survey to ensure that the drainage system is trouble-free.

2. Shared Drainage Responsibilities

If you own property in an apartment block, or in a house that has been refurbished to create flats, the ownership of drain is less clear cut. The usual practice is to have a property management company that looks after the maintenance of the building, including the drains. Where there are problems with shared drainage systems, the management company would normally pay, therefore.

The responsibility for blockages within individual flats may, however, sit with the owner. If, for example the kitchen sink is blocked, the owner would need to pay to have it cleared – unless the problem lies in a shared drainage system.

3. Landlords’ Drainage Responsibilities

In most cases, a tenant is able to pass on the costs of unblocking drains to their landlord. Drain clearance will normally be arranged by the landlord, or by a management company. Occasionally, though, a tenancy agreement may have a clause requiring tenants to contribute to the cost of drainage repair charges. In order to find out if this is the case, take a look at the rental agreement, or contact the letting agent.

4. Lateral Drains and Sewers

A lateral drain is a pipe that carries waste water from your property to the sewer. These are normally outside your property; often they travel under a road to meet pipes taking the waste to the sewer. If there are problems with lateral drains, or sewers they are normally public ownership not the responsibility of private householders. A call to your water company should provide information regarding who is responsible.

5. Manhole Covers

These are drain covers; they’re round and, if they’re part of a publicly owned drainage system, they will have the name of the water company on them. Public drains are normally located on public land, but it is sometimes the case that they’re found on driveways or in front gardens.


Do You Need Drain Clearance?

If you are responsible for drain unblocking, Drainflow provides affordable, professional blocked drain clearance in Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, and North London. For over 20 years we have been responding promptly to calls from residential and commercial customers. We don’t charge call-out rates, we operate 24/7, and our aim is always unblock your drains in one visit.


If you’re looking for a reliable drain clearance company Drainflow is the one to call first. We offer a prompt response from a specialist team – call us on 01525 718500