Neighbours drain blocked, I'm the one suffering, any advice?

Neighbours drain blocked, I'm the one suffering, any advice?

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maxrider

Original Poster:

2,481 posts

222 months

Wednesday 4th November 2009
quotequote all
Bit long winded but I'll try to be concise...

About a fortnight ago the manhole in my garage filled up with crap and flooded it.

Got man out to clear the blocked drain, appeared that the blockage was some 16m away (next door or next door but one). Cost £50.

2 weeks later same thing again, man comes to clear blockage and this time does a cctv survey. Turns out the blockage is a drain rod that's been snapped off. Cost £125.

I see next door neighbour to explain that drain man thinks the blockage is about where their outside khazi is.

Neighbour says their neighbour has been doing DIY plumbing, clearing drains, capping off the outside khazi etc. This is directly next to where their plumbing is so could be the cause.

Contact drain man again, he says he'll do a sonar scan which will pinpoint the exact location so I know who needs their property digging up to clear it. Cost £120.

Now my problem is this neighbour, whichever one it is, is blissfully unaware of this problem. It is just me whose having my drains filling up with crap and flooding the garage as I'm the last house in the run.

If it isn't fixed soon I could be shelling out £50 per fortnight for unblocking.

When I do find out who is responsible there are a few questions;-

1. Is the neighbour responsible for the full cost of repair (estimated £1000 - £1200)

2. What if they refuse as they are not suffering any consequences?

3. Any delay in getting it fixed will mean I get another blockage, another £50, and by this time we will know who's responsible. Who pays that?

4. What about the £300 odd quid I've already shelled out on something that is not even a problem with MY property, just a consequence of someone elses?

Any advise welcome.

Edit: Mods please don't move this to the 'Homes' etc bit - I'd kinda like a few responses. Ta smile

Edited by maxrider on Wednesday 4th November 11:26

shirt

21,306 posts

187 months

Wednesday 4th November 2009
quotequote all
call environmental health for advice and a visit to the property.

Roop

6,012 posts

270 months

Wednesday 4th November 2009
quotequote all
Surely speak to your neighbour first and tell them what has happened, what the cause is and what is has cost and will cost...? confused

Failing that, use drain rod to push a kilo of quarry explosive down the pipe and blow up his armitage shanks...

hogfisch

286 posts

177 months

Wednesday 4th November 2009
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maxrider

Original Poster:

2,481 posts

222 months

Wednesday 4th November 2009
quotequote all
Roop said:
Surely speak to your neighbour first and tell them what has happened, what the cause is and what is has cost and will cost...? confused
Erm... I don't know which one it is yet and I want to know how I stand legally beforehand if he starts getting stroppy.

Engineer1

10,486 posts

195 months

Wednesday 4th November 2009
quotequote all
Have a word first, you call out DynoRod or similar and get it fixed etc, fine but they may know someone, they may be having a similar problem. I live in a 2nd floor masionette, last time we had drain issues the downstairs flat opened the yellow pages and called the first company, fine but my FIL is a builder and has full drain cleaning kit so, the kind people downstairs went with an expensive company and gave us half the bill when we could have got it done for a bottle of whisky at christmas time, instead it was a couple of hundred quid we didn't have, I say this because if you start runing up expenses you intend to pass on treat it as though it's your own money and check they can't get it done cheaper. I would be seriously pissed off if a neighbour presented me with a repair bill without alerting me they where getting the work done, and who they intended to do it.

Edited by Engineer1 on Wednesday 4th November 12:23

Wings

5,716 posts

201 months

Wednesday 4th November 2009
quotequote all
I had a similar problem at a rented property of mine, through a neighbour’s drains. I contacted my local Water & Sewage service providers, who both mapped out to me how the drains ran from property to property, and roughly where the blockage/problem lay. So to the OP, I would both contact your local Council’s Environmental Health Department and your local Water, Sewage service provider, who both incidentally have awesome powers.

Bill

49,627 posts

241 months

Wednesday 4th November 2009
quotequote all
If it's a shared drain it's the council's problem, isn't it? Failing that your/your neighbours' insurance should take care of it.

aw51 121565

4,771 posts

219 months

Wednesday 4th November 2009
quotequote all
Only if the drains were built pre-1937 (presumed same time as the houses)?

Don't forget that buildings insurance covers this kind of thing - though this can be a two-edged sword with the inevitable excess payment plus increase in renewal premium due to reduction in no-claims/loading of policy after claims...

smile

shirt

21,306 posts

187 months

Wednesday 4th November 2009
quotequote all
aw51 121565 said:
Only if the drains were built pre-1937 (presumed same time as the houses)?
what does this cover exactly? i have a blocked drain that will need to be cleared at some point and the house dates to 1867.

Wings

5,716 posts

201 months

Wednesday 4th November 2009
quotequote all
I thought any drains on one's land was subject to the owner's liability, and not even covered by home insurance.

Stegel

1,905 posts

160 months

Wednesday 4th November 2009
quotequote all
The 1937 cut off only applies to sewers (i.e. drains serving more than one property). Pre 37 ones have (generally) been adopted by the local water board. Post 37, private sewers are the responsibilty of those whose property they serve - deeds will normally have terms regarding shared cost of repair etc.. Drains, which will always be private, will be the householder's responsibilty.

Bill

49,627 posts

241 months

Thursday 5th November 2009
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Wings said:
I thought any drains on one's land was subject to the owner's liability, and not even covered by home insurance.
My insurance company were fine about it.

mk1fan

10,255 posts

211 months

Thursday 5th November 2009
quotequote all
Why have you not spoken to all your neighbours down the drain from you? Actually, as it sounds like you have a shared drain I'd let all your neighbours know.

Sounds like an Insurance claim is needed. I would suggest that the 'offending' neighbours insurance policy should cover your costs. This shouldn't be an excuse to rack up huge bills as you can't expect someone to fix something they're unaware of.

As for identifying them. The cctv survey should provide a measurement as to how far down the drain the blockage is. Then all you do is measure.


Chrisgr31

13,034 posts

241 months

Thursday 5th November 2009
quotequote all
Been there, done that, and got the Tshirt! Had a drain block on the 30th December a couple of years back. In our case the drain served 4 houses, we were the first ones affected as our toilet was the lowest on the run, however once we had lifted patios to find the manholes we were able to prove to our neighbours that it was going to be a mutual problem.

The legal situation is that if it is not a public sewer (and if it runs though back gardens it is unlikely to be) then it is the responsibility of those who benefit from it to fix it. So in ouur case the sewer served 4 houses, but the damage was in the garden of a fifth. The fifth house has no obligation to contribute towards the fixing, but did have an obligation to allow us access to fix it. If they refuse access you then have to notify the local Council who can issue an order, meaning access has to be granted.

In our case we had that drain insurance which is always being hard sold (since cancelled it!) however that meant we were able to get Dynarod or the equivalent to clear it. However the cause of the blockage was a cracked sewer and for that we claimed on the insurance. Our insurance compnay then liaised with the neighbours insurance companies and they organised and paid for the work, Each neighbour had to pay the excess, and an increased premium for claiming. With the benefit of hindsight would have been cheaper to pay the contractor directly.

So I would go and see the neighbours who are upstream of the blockage as they have to share costs. The neighbour where the bloackage is will only have to share the costs f he is using the sewr at that point but he will have to give you access.

maxrider

Original Poster:

2,481 posts

222 months

Friday 6th November 2009
quotequote all
Update: The sonar scan found the blockage is two doors down where their outside bog was capped off.

The guy that did the survey says that me and my next door neighbour are responsible for the cost but not the guy that has the blockage confused

Next door neighbours are pensioners and look like they're going to be awkward about coughing up (about £1000 not including the £300 I've already spent). Guy with blockage's mum was there and also was rather reticent saying it's not her sons fault but the previous owner.

My insurance won't cover as it was 'accidental damage'.

Think I'm going to get stung here frown

mk1fan

10,255 posts

211 months

Friday 6th November 2009
quotequote all
1. You instructed the sonar scan so you're liable for the cost. However, you should be able to reclaim the cost, after you've paid the invoice, from the 'offending' neighbour.

2. Doesn't matter one bit that the previous owner of the house caused the damage. The current freeholder is responsible even if they have changed.

Does your Home Insurance have legal advice included? If so, give them a ring. I would proceed informally for now with the neighbour but make it clear that if they do not act to fix this then you'll take legal measures and all the time they delay they are incurring costs of the damage and loss you suffer as a result of the drain being blocked and over flowing.

maxrider

Original Poster:

2,481 posts

222 months

Friday 6th November 2009
quotequote all
mk1fan said:
1. You instructed the sonar scan so you're liable for the cost. However, you should be able to reclaim the cost, after you've paid the invoice, from the 'offending' neighbour.
That's not the issue, I've paid for that. It's who's paying the grand or more for digging it up that's bothering me.

mk1fan

10,255 posts

211 months

Friday 6th November 2009
quotequote all
maxrider said:
The guy that did the survey says that me and my next door neighbour are responsible for the cost but not the guy that has the blockage confused
Read that to be an issue.

I answered who's responsible for repairing the drain - based upon what you've said.

Ganglandboss

8,175 posts

189 months

Friday 6th November 2009
quotequote all
hogfisch said:
This is correct (assuming post-1937).

  • A pipe carrying one property's waste is a drain and is the responsibility of the owner of the property served.
  • A pipe carrying more than one property's waste on private land is a private sewer and is the joint responsibility of all the properties served, regardless of whose land it is on.
In the OP's case, the latter applies. I suspect Building Control may be interested in the neighbour's DIY plumbing; alterations to drains are notifiable works.

Edited by Ganglandboss on Friday 6th November 19:35