What is a drain?
A drain is a pipe that carries either foul water (sink / bath / toilet etc.) or surface water (rain) from one house only. The owner or occupier of the house is solely responsible for maintaining a drain, clearing blockages and repairing any faults that occur up to the property boundary. Outside of the property boundary the drain becomes the responsibility of the sewerage undertaker, which is in this area is Anglian Water.
What is a sewer?
A sewer is a pipe that carries either foul water or surface water from more than one house. A sewer may be either Public or Private.
Public Sewers are the responsibility of Anglian Water Services. These are generally the main sewer in the road but also include sewers serving more than one property.
A Private Sewer is the responsibility of the owners or occupiers of the houses it serves and not Anglian Water Services. This means that the owners or occupiers of all houses upstream of a blockage or defect are all responsible for clearance of blockages or repair. Generally only blocks of flats or developments on a private site will have private sewers serving them.
If you live in rented accommodation you should contact your landlord to clarify your responsibilities regarding sewers serving the property you are renting.
What can I do if my drain or private sewer blocks?
Several private contractors can be found in Yellow Pages or via the internet. It is advisable to get a quote for the works before agreeing to employ a contractor. Where several owners are affected by a blockage in a private sewer you should attempt to agree to share the cost with each owner before employing a contractor.
An important factor that will reduce the number of blockages that occur in the first place is taking care of what items are actually pushed, poured, or flushed down a drain or sewer. The following items should never be put down a drain:
Cement, rubble, concrete, stones, engine oil, chemicals, fat, newspaper, magazines, nappies, sanitary products and other bulky items.
What can I do if a public sewer or drain outside my property boundary blocks or needs repair?
Telephone Anglian Water on 08457 145145 or see their website under useful links.
What happens if a drain inside my property boundary or a private sewer blocks or requires repair?
You should arrange for the repair to be carried out by a contractor. The cost of repairs to private sewers should be shared by the various householders. Your Buildings Insurance Policy may cover the cost of repairs; you should check your policy document or contact your insurers.
Asking us for help
If a shared drainage system inside a property boundary becomes blocked we can become involved in order to find out precisely where the defect has occurred and then identify who has responsibility for repairing the problem.
If an informal solution to the problem cannot be found it may be necessary to take statutory action. Legal Notices can be served by us requiring a drain to be unblocked/repaired within a specified time. If the necessary works are not satisfactorily completed we have the power to carry out work and the cost of this can be recovered from the users.
Tendring District Council Properties
If you are our council tenant, any blockages or problems relating to the drainage system should be referred to us by using the report a repair page.
Rural Drainage Systems
These are private drainage systems such as septic tanks and cesspools. Although generally these units are reliable and need little attention, in some cases problems can occur, including:
- Unpleasant Smells
- System blockages
- Flooding and fouling of land and nearby ditches
The responsibility for these types of rural drainage systems falls entirely on the householders. If such a system serves more than one property then each householder is responsible for his or her own drains until the point where it connects into a common part of the system. Any works or maintenance that is required to these common parts to repair some of the defects listed above is the joint responsibility of all householders served by the system.
The information contained on this web page is provided as advice and guidance on general drainage issues and is not a statement of law.
For further advice and guidance on drainage, and clarification as to responsibility please contact:
Address: Environmental Services, Council Offices, Weeley, Clacton on Sea, Essex, CO16 9AJ
Telephone: (01255) 686767
Some advice will vary from authority to authority so, if you do not live in the Tendring district, it is advisable to contact your own local authority. To find out who your local authority is, you can check your Council Tax bill or enter your postcode on DirectGov - the Government information website.