Drain problems - drains serving properties

Councils are not responsible for drains serving properties and private land. But we do have the power to investigate and enforce action where there is problem which is not being dealt with by the property owner.

Drainage responsibilities and who to contact

Property owners are responsible for:

  • drains within the property boundary serving only the one property
  • drains connecting to septic tanks

For blockages in or damage to either of these types of drain, contact a drainage company or check with your insurers to see if you are covered. 

For septic tank permits and rules, see GOV.UK.

United Utilities are responsible for:

  • shared drainage pipes (sewers), whether the pipe falls within the boundary of a private property or not  
  • pipes where a drain continues outside a property boundary

For any problems, contact United Utilities

Investigation and enforcement

We can investigate where there is a problem with a private drain and the person responsible is not dealing with the problem. This includes making use of CCTV surveys. We can then either serve legal notices on the person responsible so they must carry out the necessary work or we can carry out the work ourselves. We will charge the person or people responsible for any work that we do in this situation and for associated administration costs. 

We cannot enforce United Utilities to maintain public sewers. You should use the United Utilities complaints procedure if you are unhappy with their response to a problem. 


Page last reviewed: 10 June 2021