neighbour and drain problem - advice please!

(12 Posts)
VicarInaTutu Wed 01-Jun-11 12:41:15

i live on a street of 15 houses. i share a drain with 8 of them. i am the end house of the eight, so if any problems occur further down the street i get a blocked drain.

every few weeks my DH has to go out with drain rods - we have identified the source of the problem as my immediate neighbour - they have no man hole cover in their garden as their house has an extension that is built over it and their patio covers the actual drains.

My dh has to go next door but one and drain rod back to the neighbours house where there is a massive problem - it looks as though the neighbours drains may have collapsed, you can feel it with the drain rods, you hit something very solid, like a brick.

i have been round to see the neighbours, but he says he cant do anything because the drains are covered by the patio and the cover is under his extension. there is no access, but he isnt getting any problems - no he wouldnt cos the sewage backs up to ours!

i have asked nicely, but we want to put our house on the market and it will be seen on the survey - you only have to lift our drain cover to see the problem as it is constantly backed up.

where do i stand? can i make the neighbour do something about his drain? i dont see why my DH should have to keep unblocking for them, and its every few weeks it needs doing or it spills out over our garden.

i will be going around again to tell him that yet again we have had to rod his drains, but im getting fed up of it.
help!

conculainey Wed 01-Jun-11 13:54:33

I would check with the local planning office to check if permission was given for the extension as I doubt any permission would have allowed the covering up of a manhole cover, building control at your local council may also give you advise. A survey which involves a camera being installed into the pipe will most likely be needed to prove the cause of the problem and your local council should supply this service FOC and they should also enforce any remedial works that are needed. I have had the exact same problem in the past and my local council forced the homeowners responsible to repair the fault.

Sewilma Wed 01-Jun-11 13:58:34

I am assuming this is a private sewer? (You would know if it was).

Although most councils / water utility companies don't get involved in dealing with blockages in private sewers, councils WILL get involved as a public health issue.

Generally, if the problem is in a connection to the sewer, it is that owner's responsibilty to resolve. If the problem is in the sewer itself, then it may be that all households on the sewer are responsible. However, a professional exploratory can usually identify where the problem is and who it is caused by.

If as you say, the problem is caused by one neighbour, I would contact the council and obtain a copy of the sewer network for your street and then get in touch with the public health department (or whichever department deals with this issues) and explain that the problem is definitely coming from one house and see if there is anything they can do to force the neighbour to carry out the work. (Btw, I don't think they can just cover over a manhole so it's their tough luck if they have to remove the patio and carry out the work).

Councils can serve notice on all the owners connected to the sewer / owner of the damaged / blocked sewer connection giving them x amount of time to resolve the problem through hiring a commerical company and if it not done, they will do the work (at a hugely inflated price plus admin costs) and bill every homeowner served by the private sewer.

See what the council say then I would explain to your neighbour that it would be cheaper if he sorted this out himself as it's due to his connection to the sewer before the council have to start serving enforcement notices (maybe at this point leave out that the cost of the work could be billed to all the households on the sewer because if he knows this, they might let it go the enforcement route to spread the cost and it's not fair you might have to pay if he's been unreasonable so far).

This is my first post so sorry if I've rambled! Good luck x

hugglymugly Wed 01-Jun-11 14:10:50

It sounds as though you're the first house that connects to the sewer and the blockage is upstream from where your neighbour's drain connects to the shared sewer (as he isn't getting any problems). I think (but I'm in no way any kind of expert) that it means that probably it's your responsibility even though it's not under your land. Your water company should have plans that show all the drains/sewers and should be able to advise on what to do.

If this all started after he had the extension built, it could be that damage was caused by the building work. There's usually specific requirements to prevent this and I'd wonder if the water company knew of the building work or inspected it, especially as there's no longer an inspection chamber.

conculainey Wed 01-Jun-11 16:51:16

Out of curiousity are your storm drains seperate or does the rain water mix with the foul sewers?

VicarInaTutu Thu 02-Jun-11 23:53:36

thanks

the neighbours extension was built before it was an issue to build over a drain. it was a DIY extension - the owner at that time built it himself, it is a mess, and at one point was sinking as he was not a builder.

it is a private drain. when i next see him i will tell him that we pulled pieces of pipe out of it this time. i think we will need a camera down, but i refuse to pay fo this on my own as the problem is not ours. if all 8 houses would chip in then fine.
he says he is getting now problems - he must be - but as his drains are concreted over i doubt he would even know if he was, and because the water has no where to go it is just backing up to our drain etc.

i cannot bloody wait to get shot of this house tbh.

CarGirl Fri 03-Jun-11 07:41:05

How old are the drains because if they were built before circa 1930 (you need to google and check this info) then I think it's your local water board that has responsibility for them.

Fizzylemonade Fri 03-Jun-11 07:48:43

If you did contact the council for any reason about the neighbour you have to declare this on the form you fill in for the solicitor when you sell. Just so you know.

Sadly I don't know how to resolve the drain issue.

wednesday13 Fri 03-Jun-11 13:32:27

I would put money that the foundations of next-door's building extension did not bridge over the drain properly, have sunk onto it and crushed it. Anything built in the last 100 years should have protected the pipe properly. If he doens't have problems, it's likely the damaged pipe is upstream of his connection, under the wall nearest you: can you estimate the distance from your rodding? It will be your own sewage backing up (ick, sorry!)

It may be possible to dig down from the outside, expose and repair the drain with a proper lintel over it, and sort the problem that way. I have seen exactly this situation in a friend's house. Is the patio slabs or something that could easily be lifted?

TBH I would start by phoning up your local council's Building Control and asking to speak to the local officer for your area. They are very interested in every thing to do with drains!

wednesday13 Fri 03-Jun-11 13:36:30

Alternatively phone up your water company who might be responsible if it's an older property as Cargirl said.

clam Fri 03-Jun-11 13:55:37

So, when did it (rightly) become an issue to build over drains? I only ask because my parents had to rule out extending their kitchen 40 years ago, due to the manhole cover on their patio. So how old is your neighbour's extension?

nocake Fri 03-Jun-11 16:08:08

If it's a private drain (and it sounds like it is) then I would get onto your house insurance company. If the damage is under your neighbours house then the insurance company may be able to talk to their insurance company about getting the repairs done.

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