Drainage and sewers

You may have a problem with the drains serving your property if your sink gully is overflowing, your toilet is blocked or the inspection chamber outside is overflowing.

The owner or occupier is responsible for cleaning and carrying out any necessary repairs to drains within private properties.

The Council can offer advice and guidance and has certain legal powers to deal with issues on privately owned property.

However, not all drainage problems are as a result of a problem occurring within a property. If the defect is outside, then it depends where it is in the drainage system, as to who is responsible.

Explanation of drains and sewers

  • A private drain is a pipe carrying waste water / sewage or surface water from an individual property. These are often referred to as private drains, as the responsibility for maintenance, repair and clearance lies with the owner of the property.
  • A lateral drain is the part of a drain which lies outside the property boundary. In some cases, this can be located in a neighbours garden, an alleyway, or road beyond the property.
  • A sewer is a pipe that carries waste water / sewage or surface water from more than one property.

The Council holds copies of the public sewer map (i.e. sewers that are the responsibility of Yorkshire Water) for inspection by members of the public. If you need information about the position of public sewers, you can contact Yorkshire Water. to view the computer record of the maps, go to one of the Council's Local offices. For a print from the public sector record, contact: Yorkshire Water directly. The Council does not hold detailed records of any private drainage.

Sewers that connect to private treatment works, a septic tank or carry water direct to a watercourse, are not the responsibility of Yorkshire Water.

Finding out who is responsible

You could ask your neighbours and see if they are experiencing similar problems. If they are not affected it is likely that the problem relates to a private drain and it is your responsibility to clear the blockage and / or repair the drain. You may wish to contact your insurance company and see if you are covered by your policy. If you are unable to clear the blockage yourself you can contact a plumber or specialist drainage contractor.

If your neighbours are affected, it is likely that the problem is in the sewer. This may be the responsibility of the water company. To get a better understanding of who is responsible for the sewer, visit: Yorkshire Water .

If you are a tenant, contact your landlord or Housing Association to request that they resolve the issue.

The Council’s role in relation to private drains

The Council’s role is to safeguard public health and in circumstances where there is a defect on a private drain we will generally serve a legal notice on the owner of the property requiring them to undertake the necessary work to resolve the problem. In the event of the notice not being complied with, we will organise a contractor to undertake the works and recharge you. This will be a more expensive option than undertaking the work yourself.


If your problems concerning a private drain or sewer arise out of office hours and the situation is urgent, contact the Council's Out of hours support .

For information or advice:


See also