Drainage And Sewerage

The foul and surface water drainage from a house normally drains down to underground pipes that join the main sewer owned by the relevant water/sewerage company.

Southern Water are generally responsible for the maintenance and repair of sewers.

For drains serving a single property, the home owner has responsibility for maintenance and repair of underground pipes located within the property boundary. Once the drain enters land outside the property boundary it is referred to as a ‘lateral drain’. This section of underground pipes is maintained and repaired by Southern Water.

Private pumping stations

Pumping stations, associated valve chamber and rising main are the responsibility of Southern Water. Pipes inside the property boundary, and serving only that property, will remain the responsibility of the homeowner.

Private pumping stations serving just one property and within its boundary are the homeowner’s responsibility. Similarly, pipes inside the property’s boundary and serving only that property are the responsibility of the homeowner. However, the rising main/lateral drain outside the property’s boundary is the responsibility of Southern Water.

If you are served by a private pumping station it may be eligible for transfer to Southern Water, saving you the cost and liability of maintaining and running it. 


Homeowners with properties discharging to a public sewerage system will pay charges to the relevant sewerage company. Southern Water is the relevant sewerage company in the borough of Ashford.

Any problems involving the public sewerage system can be reported to Southern Water by telephoning 0845 278 0845.

If you are reporting a problem please ensure that you know your postcode.

General advice to help prevent blockages

  • Don’t pour fat down drains – this is often the cause of blockages. Wipe pans with kitchen roll or pour out the fat into another container and wait for it to congeal before disposing of it in the bin
  • Don’t put feminine hygiene products, wet wipes, cleaning wipes or disposable nappies down the toilet. These don’t break up like toilet paper and can cause a blockage in the pipe, even if they say they are flushable
  • Only use the recommended amount of washing powder as this can build up along the inside of the pipe and cause it to lose flow and eventually block up
  • Make sure contractors don’t put artex, cement, rubble, glue, plaster or render etc. down the sink or outside gulleys. It will harden and can cause blockages
  • Don’t bury your manhole cover. If you pave, cement, or put decking over it, you may have to rip it all out to gain access to the manhole and even then you may not remember where it actually is
  • Make sure any manholes or gullies are covered. Missing covers mean many things can fall into the pipe and cause a blockage
  • Periodically checking your kitchen gulley for fatty deposits and removing any build up can save you a lot of money later

When do we get involved and why?

The following applies to tenants and leaseholders of council owned property.

We, as the freeholder, are responsible for the maintenance of a drain. This only extends to ensuring that the system is free from defects or other damage e.g. tree roots. The situation for council tenants and leaseholders will be exactly the same as for private homeowners. As a result they will be responsible for the cost of clearing any blockages caused by them or other costs related to discharging inappropriate items into the drainage system.

If our contractor is requested by the occupier to attend to a blocked drain and it turns out to have been caused by the occupier, then the cost will be recharged to the tenant or leaseholder (as appropriate). Southern Water may also impose charges for abortive calls and may not clear a blocked drain.

Charges imposed by Southern Water and addressed to us will be investigated. If the charges are the responsibility of the tenant or leaseholder we will reject them and ask Southern Water to redirect accordingly. In these circumstances we will provide Southern Water with the relevant contact details for the tenant or leaseholder (as necessary).

If we are required to pay charges imposed by Southern Water when the tenant or leaseholder is found to be responsible, the charge will be redirected. The net cost of the charges imposed plus interest calculated monthly will be payable by the tenant or leaseholder.

We also reserve the right to charge the tenant or leaseholder for investigating and administrating the charge.

Legal action

We also have legal powers to intervene when there is a blockage or other defect in a drain and no action has been taken by the homeowner to rectify it.

We can serve notice, undertake works in default and recharge its reasonable costs if the homeowner does not respond. In such cases, we will add an administration charge to the cost of the remedial works.

We have no statutory powers to require Southern Water to maintain and repair the public sewerage system. However, Southern Water operates a complaints procedure and this may be used by a homeowner to resolve a dispute.

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