Drainage problems

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Knowing who is responsible for clearing a blocked drain or sewer is one of the hardest parts of drainage work. It is important to understand the different types of pipework, because the responsibilities are different with each type of pipe.


Drains carry waste and/or surface water directly from one house into a public or private sewer.


If you own a house you are responsible for clearing and repairing the drains, gutters and rain water pipes.

If you are a tenant the landlord is usually responsible, but depending on your tenancy agreement, the landlord may pass on the costs to you.

If your drain is blocked it is your responsibility to arrange for the blockage to be cleared. You can either do this yourself or by contacting a Drainage Engineer (under 'Drain and Pipe Clearing' in the Yellow Pages or on www.yell.com).


Private Sewers

A Private Sewer is any waste connection that is situated within a property boundary or up to the point where it joins onto a neighbour's sewer.


Private owners are responsible for any repairs or maintenance to private sewers. If you are a tenant your landlord may be responsible for the works, depending on your tenancy agreement.

Public Sewers

Due to a change in law, as from 1st October 2011, any section of a sewer network that is shared between two properties has become a public sewer. This therefore means that a public sewer can now be situated within a property boundary.


The Sewer Undertaker is responsible for public sewers - for the Ipswich borough this is Anglian Water. They have the responsibility to clear blockages, repair damage and maintain public sewers. Anglian Water can be contacted on 03457 145 145.

For more information about the changes to sewer responsibilities, please visit the Anglian Water website.

Public highways

The road gullies are the responsibility of the Highway Authority (Suffolk County Council), as are the drains connecting gullies to a public sewer.

Public surface water sewers are the responsibility of either Anglian Water, or, where it is a designated highway drain, Suffolk County Council.

Private roads, garage compounds and parking areas.

Private roads, garage compounds and parking areas are the responsibility of the householders adjoining the private road or drained area. The householder is responsible for the pipe up where the drain leaves the property boundary or starts to serve two or more properties.

If owners of houses fail to meet their responsibilities, the Private Sector Housing Service will take formal action to resolve the issue.