Drains and sewers play a crucial role in maintaining hygiene and sanitation in our homes and cities. They are part of an intricate system that carries away waste and stormwater, safeguarding public health and the environment. But when these essential components of our infrastructure fail or deteriorate, it raises an important question: Who is responsible for repairing drains and sewers? This question doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all answer. The responsibility can fall onto homeowners, local municipalities, or water companies depending on the specific details of the situation.


Homeowner Responsibility


Typically, the responsibility for maintaining or repairing the drains within the property boundaries lies with the homeowner. This includes lateral drains that connect a property to the main sewer line. It’s worth noting that if you are a tenant, the responsibility typically falls onto the property owner or landlord.

The homeowner is responsible for issues such as blocked drains, damaged pipes, or problems with the plumbing system directly connected to the home. In some cases, homeowners might also be responsible for the sewer lines that connect their homes to the main sewer, provided these lines are within the property boundaries.


Shared Responsibility


Things get a bit more complicated when it comes to shared sewers or drains. These are drains that serve more than one property before they connect to the public sewer. In many regions, the responsibility for shared sewers or lateral drains that extend beyond the property boundary has been transferred to the local water and sewerage companies. This change was designed to alleviate homeowners from the financial and logistical burden of repairing shared drains.

Therefore, if a problem occurs in a shared sewer or a lateral drain outside a single property’s boundaries, it may be the responsibility of the local water or sewerage company.


Local Municipality and Water Company Responsibility


In most jurisdictions, the local municipality or the local water company is responsible for maintaining the public sewer system. This includes main sewer lines that are commonly located under public property like streets, parks, or sidewalks.

The local water company is usually responsible for regular maintenance, repair, and the overall integrity of these public sewer systems. This ensures that the sewers are working properly and continue to transport sewage away from homes and businesses efficiently.


Factors Determining Responsibility


Several factors can shift the responsibility of sewer and drain repair:

  • Location of the Fault: If the fault is within the property boundaries, it’s usually the homeowner’s responsibility. If it’s in the public sewer, it’s the water company’s responsibility.
  • Shared Drains and Sewers: As mentioned earlier, in shared situations, the local water company usually takes charge.
  • Local Laws and Regulations: These can vary between regions and countries, and they can modify where the responsibility falls.


How A CCTV Drain Survey Can Confirm Ownership


A CCTV survey inspection can play a crucial role in confirming property ownership by providing concrete visual evidence, and it can also confirm whether the drain or sewer system is under ownership being public, private, water company, landlord, or local authority. By capturing images or video footage of key property features, boundaries, and landmarks, it can help to clearly establish the extent of a property. This visual record can further substantiate ownership claims, particularly in cases where property lines are under dispute.

However, while a CCTV survey inspection can offer supportive evidence, it’s important to remember that legal documentation remains the primary source for confirming property ownership.


Responsibility of Local Government


In urban and suburban areas, the maintenance and repair of public drains and sewers are typically the responsibility of the local government or municipality. This includes the sewer lines that connect individual properties to the main sewer system, as well as the stormwater drains that manage rainwater runoff. Local governments often have dedicated departments or agencies that oversee the maintenance and repair of these vital infrastructure components.


Property Owner’s Responsibility


On the other hand, the maintenance and repair of private drains and sewers on individual properties are the responsibility of the property owner. This includes the sewer lines that run from the property to the main sewer system, as well as any drainage systems within the property boundaries. Property owners are responsible for ensuring that these systems are in good working order and addressing any issues that may arise.


Shared Responsibility


In some cases, there may be shared responsibility for the maintenance and repair of drains and sewers. For example, in areas where properties are part of a homeowners’ association or a cooperative, the responsibility for maintaining certain parts of the sewer system may be shared among the property owners.


Legal and Regulatory Considerations


It’s important to note that the specific laws and regulations regarding the maintenance and repair of drains and sewers can vary by region and jurisdiction. Local ordinances, building codes, and environmental regulations may dictate the responsibilities of both the local government and property owners in ensuring the proper functioning of drainage and sewer systems.




In conclusion, the responsibility for repairs to drains and sewers can fall on different parties depending on various factors. Homeowners are typically responsible for the drains within their property, while local water companies usually shoulder the responsibility for the public sewers and shared drains.

However, different jurisdictions have different laws and regulations, so it’s always crucial to check with local authorities or your water company to understand your responsibilities. In all cases, maintaining awareness about the sewer and drainage system connected to your property can help avoid potential problems and costly repairs.