Adopted sewers

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Uriah Heap
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Adopted sewers

Post by Uriah Heap » Sun Oct 07, 2018 9:20 pm

This is a semi-hypethetical question:

Three houses (call them nos. 1, 2 and 3).

Nos. 2 and 3 have their sewers running under no. 1s land to a manhole also on no. 1's land. This then drains under no. 1's house and drive to the main in the street.

About 25 years ago the LA adopted the sewers, at which time the manhole on no. 1s land was covered by paving slabs (actually polythene sheet then an inch of sand then the paving slabs on top). The inspecter that came just before the sewers were adopted could see this and said they would prefer the manhole to be uncovered but could not retrospecfully make householder no. 1 do it. The serwes were adopted anyway.

Now 25 or so years later neighbour at no. 3 has blocked his sewer twice in the last 6 months. The water company "sucker team" came round to house number 1 and said it was illegal to have the manhole covered (even though there is a laminated diagram to locate it and the slabs can be lifted easily). In any case the owner uncovered the manhole for them so they could lift the lid, but they said they were going to report it so householder would have to leave it uncovered or go to court.

I think the sewer inspecter is more likely to know the law on this than the sucker guys.

Who is right? Can they make householder no. 1 uncover the manhole and make his garden look a mess, at his own expense, even though the manhole was covered like this when they adopted it?

ukmicky
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Re: Adopted sewers

Post by ukmicky » Mon Oct 08, 2018 3:43 am

This is a semi-hypethetical question:

I'm not really a semi man but here is my opinion

I would say if would depend on whether or not the closure of the manhole access was permanent or not. They adopted the sewer as it was on the date of adoption and if the manhole cover was not removed or in someway permanently sealed the implication is as it a manhole cover and as a manhole cover is there to be opened to gain access to the sewer and as its only covered over by removable material and therefore it cant be deemed to be a permanent change they have adopted a working manhole and have a right of access. There may however a obligation to make good any damage. If it had been removed they have the power to reinstate it, if it was required to ensure the sewer continued to work properly and didn't cause a health hazard should there be a blockage


The other thing is they reckon 65 percent of freehold titles are subject to easements . I'm one of those 65 percent even though I said I would never buy a house subject to easements but didn't consider the fact that my neighbours have a right of access to one of my two manhole covers on my land under a sewage type of easement should there be a blockage . The adoption of the sewer does not remove that right it only makes it not necessary to use as Thames water deal with any blockage under statutory laws but under that easement I cant permanently block it .

Like with a right of way that allows access prior to the adoption of a road , any easement right of access still remains after adoption and in the unlikely event of the road was unadopted the dominant tenements would be able to fall back on the easement right to gain access.
Any information provided is not legal advice and you are advised to gain a professional opinion

Uriah Heap
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Re: Adopted sewers

Post by Uriah Heap » Fri Oct 12, 2018 12:46 pm

Hello ukmicky.

Thanks for the reply and sorry for the delay in responding.

The slabs have never been permanent. It has always been possible to lift them to gain access to the manhole, although they were in place when the inspecter came before the sewers were adopted.

I have two questions:

1. How would I know if there is an easement? My land is unregistered and my deeds don't say anything on the matter.

2. If the Water company come round again, I am quite happy to let them lift the slabs (I have even hung up a laminated diagram so they can identify where the manhole is), but am I obliged to let them come through my house? I don't want 'dirty' (if you know what I mean) sucker pipes being trailed over my carpets. I would prefer if they would lift a fence panel and come through from the neighbours garden.

jonahinoz
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Re: Adopted sewers

Post by jonahinoz » Fri Oct 12, 2018 5:01 pm

Hi Uriah,

I believe there have been house extensions built over drains serving whole terraces of houses, with inspection chambers within the extensions. I think the inspection chambers need to have double lids. ???

Ah ... Yer'tiz! https://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/sh ... ?t=5294030

John W

Hugh Jaleak
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Re: Adopted sewers

Post by Hugh Jaleak » Tue Oct 23, 2018 2:18 pm

Sewer ownership and responsibility changed in October 2011. Since that date, any sewer serving one or more properties, becomes the responsibility of the Sewerage Provider (Water Company). Any sewer serving a single property, from the point it passes under the boundary into a neighbouring property, also now comes under the Water Company. (There may be odd exceptions, but generally that is the rule of thumb.)

Ultimately, I'd assume that sewer (and chamber) are now the Water Company's asset, and technically they can insist you do not cover it. You'd be surprised what some folks think acceptable to put over chambers, (decking and conservatories are favourites). There may not be an easement recorded, but if the matter was to go to Court with the Water Company seeking access for whatever reason, I think it highly unlikely any Judge would rule against the Water Company. The law is quite strict when it comes to drainage, simply because it is a vital component of protecting Public Health. If aesthetics are vital, then a cover could probably be fitted that incorporates the paving slabs, and helps the cover to blend in.

Environmental Health have powers to serve notice giving 48hrs warning, that they may/will be taking action over a drainage issue, and billing all properties concerned for their efforts, the rule changes around sewers I believe were in some way to help relieve EH of the need to get involved over sewer disputes and who was responsible for what.

Building over chambers, whilst a common practice in the past, (John is right, a double sealed, screwed down cover must be fitted), but a lot of Water Companies are banning the practice now on any new works, for the very reason it is a nightmare to get to the sewer in the event of a problem. Secondly, opening up a full chamber, within a property, is neither pleasant, nor easy. Trying to clear a blockage is messy enough in the first place, without the additional issues of trying to protect the property.

Lastly, if access is available by removing a fence panel, then I am very surprised they would want to come through the house! I think you are quite within your rights to refuse access via the house, especially given the nature of the work. If they insist, ask for a senior member of staff to attend prior to them entering, to discuss the options, the reasoning and the procedure if any damage is done to your home.

Uriah Heap
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Re: Adopted sewers

Post by Uriah Heap » Tue Oct 23, 2018 9:27 pm

Thanks for the replys John and Hugh (sorry, John I missed your's originally).

Yes, it seems reasonable that there are laws governing access to manholes. My query stemmed from the fact that:

1. Access is not obstructed . There is a laminated plan on show right next to the manhole to indicate which slabs have to be lifted - and that can be done very easily (they are small slabs and not concreted down).

2. The slabs were there when the manhole was inspected immediately before the sewer was adopted. I can't see they can force retrospectiove 'un-development' otherwise they would be requiring householders to tear down extensions and conservatories that have been built over manholes as John describes.

None of that makes it any more convenient though when you have moron neighbours that block the sewers with nappies and bits of hessian rice sacks. :roll:

Uriah Heap
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Joined: Fri Jun 01, 2007 10:21 pm

Re: Adopted sewers

Post by Uriah Heap » Thu Nov 01, 2018 12:07 pm

They have just blocked the sewer again so we had the water co.s workmen round again. They lifted slabs okay. It was a black bin bag this time!! How did they manage to flush a bin bag. They need to start charging these people whoc keep blocking sewers

Eliza
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Re: Adopted sewers

Post by Eliza » Fri Nov 02, 2018 10:01 am

Hugh Jaleak

Tried sending you a private message with a query re sewers under communal land.

Not sure if I've managed to send it okay? Hope it gets through to you okay.
Apologies for not giving exact personal details in my posts - you never know who is reading....

Hugh Jaleak
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Re: Adopted sewers

Post by Hugh Jaleak » Mon Dec 03, 2018 9:05 pm

Eliza, sorry, just seen your post. Have checked my PM's nothing from you I'm afraid. Feel free to contact me again if you still need advice.

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