How does drainage work in a flat or apartment? Whose responsibility is it?

If you live in a flat or an apartment, drainage might not be on your radar. It’s the responsibility if you’re a water company, landlord or the building owner – right? Well, mostly it is, but it’s worth knowing your rights when it comes to your drains and what you can do if things go wrong.


Who’s responsible for what?

Many water companies will consider a block of flats as a single property. The flat owner or tenant is usually responsible for drains within the flat. The landlord is then responsible for the drains up to the property boundary and the water company for all the drains beyond that, such as the lateral drains (those shared with neighbours) and sewers. You can check your address with your local water authority who will be able to tell you exactly how your drainage system is linked up and can then advise you if you have any problems or questions.

What if you rent?

Legally, there are some rules as to what landlords need to do for you. Under section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, landlords are obliged to make basic repairs to a property, particularly those that relate to drainage, pipes and other areas of plumbing and MUST NOT pass on the charge to tenants. This means that any private landlord of an apartment/or whole apartment block is responsible for all of the major plumbing and drainage, including sinks, baths and toilets, internal pipework, sewers, drains, guttering and rainwater pipes.

If you live in a flat or apartment, whether you rent or not, the internal drains are your responsibility. This means if you block your kitchen sink with food waste, clog up your toilet, or your hair blocks your shower drain – you will need to be the one who treats the problem, either buying the correct products or calling a specialist, like us.

For all up to date information on your drainage in your flat or apartment, contact your landlord, building owner or water company. You can also contact us if you have any issues, call 0800 849 8099 or email us at service@happydrains.co.uk – we’re always happy to help.