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NeilB

Blocked Shared Sewer Serving Property - Tenants Liability?

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I've recently received a demand from our local council under the Local Goverment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 to remove an obstruction from a section of private sewer shared between our rented home and 8 other properties, all owner-occupied.

The letter is addressed to both the Landlord and myself and it clearly says the following:

"You are hereby notified that, in pursuance of the powers conferred on them by Section 35 of the Local Goverment (Misc Provisions) Act 1876, the Council require you (jointly with the owners/occupiers) of the following premesis, namely: to engage a competent drainage company to unblock the shared private server, care must be taken to to exacerbate the known problem with the sewer."

If we do not do anything within 48 hours the council are performing the work (which involves digging up a neighbours landscaped garden and removing some sewer) and billing us and - I presume - the other 8 householders.

There is then a quote from the act which says:

S35. (1) If a private sewer is obstructed at a point within the area of a local authority... the authority may serve on each of the persons who is an owner or occupier of premises served by the sewer, or on each of such of those persons as the authority thinks fit, a notice requiring the recipients of notices in pursuance of this subsection in respect of the obstruction to remove it before a time specified in the notice...

The way I read this, both the Landlord and/or Myself, and/or anyone else the council feels like serving notice to, can be held liable for the cost of repairs. Surely this is not the case?

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My instinct would be that this is a structural repair, probably covered by your landlords building insurance, and you should pass it sharply on to the LL as if you were totally confident that it's his responsibility. The only way I could see it would be yours would be if you had been putting totally unsuitable stuff down the drains (??)

Otherwise, you need advice.

What does your tenancy agreement say?

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Standard ASTs give the landlord liability for maintenance of all external drainage and fixtures, it's not your problem mate and you should contact the council and refer them to AST laws.

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Thanks guys. Until now I've simply passed the LL's details to the council as they have been trying to co-ordinate repair works between the homeowners. I understand he is being less than co-operative so all the other householders perceive that 'we' are holding up the process. Meanwhile one neighbour's patio has collapsed and there is the risk his garden could flood with 9 household's worth of shit.

I've just had a chat with the council to confirm who the legal recipient of the notice is, as it is ambiguously served to "The Lanlord (Occupier: My name)" and was delivered in an envolope with my name on it. They said they have the right (under the local goverment act) to serve notice on occupiers not just owners. In any case this particular notice is just to get the drain unblocked which will be circa £100 between all 9 households. Eventually they will apply the same legal process to get the big repair job done.

I'm a bit more relaxed now as when I asked what happens in the event of non-payment she said normally a charge is made against the property - clearly the LL's problem not mine.

Also we have no written tenancy agreement. The LL and I agreed to 'bypass' the agency as they were appalling to both parties and were lazy/stupid enough to put us in direct contact with each other. No written contract was subsequently made. The LL seems like a decent guy (apart from refusing to pay for this sewer job) and his risk is far greater than mine. I assume our veral / non-written tenancy agreement it would fall under AST legislation in the event of a legal dispute?

Edited by NeilB

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Thanks guys. Until now I've simply passed the LL's details to the council as they have been trying to co-ordinate repair works between the homeowners. I understand he is being less than co-operative so all the other householders perceive that 'we' are holding up the process. Meanwhile one neighbour's patio has collapsed and there is the risk his garden could flood with 9 household's worth of shit.

I've just had a chat with the council to confirm who the legal recipient of the notice is, as it is ambiguously served to "The Lanlord (Occupier: My name)" and was delivered in an envolope with my name on it. They said they have the right (under the local goverment act) to serve notice on occupiers not just owners. In any case this particular notice is just to get the drain unblocked which will be circa £100 between all 9 households. Eventually they will apply the same legal process to get the big repair job done.

I'm a bit more relaxed now as when I asked what happens in the event of non-payment she said normally a charge is made against the property - clearly the LL's problem not mine.

Also we have no written tenancy agreement. The LL and I agreed to 'bypass' the agency as they were appalling to both parties and were lazy/stupid enough to put us in direct contact with each other. No written contract was subsequently made. The LL seems like a decent guy (apart from refusing to pay for this sewer job) and his risk is far greater than mine. I assume our veral / non-written tenancy agreement it would fall under AST legislation in the event of a legal dispute?

I'm not sure about this. I know that when an 6/12 month AST expires it just becomes a shorthold tenancy, with the LL needing to give 2 months notice if they want the property and the tenant needing to give one month notice if they want to leave. However, without an original AST i'm not sure if the same rules apply. You can get an AST without needing an agency to do it. When my AST expired me and the LL just did a new one without bothering to contact the agency as they inevitably charge fees which tenants usually end up paying.

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I'm not sure about this. I know that when an 6/12 month AST expires it just becomes a shorthold tenancy, with the LL needing to give 2 months notice if they want the property and the tenant needing to give one month notice if they want to leave. However, without an original AST i'm not sure if the same rules apply. You can get an AST without needing an agency to do it. When my AST expired me and the LL just did a new one without bothering to contact the agency as they inevitably charge fees which tenants usually end up paying.

An AST switchs to a periodic tenancy on expiration and the terms of teh original contract remain in place.

Blockages in drains are the responsibility of the landlord under S11 of the 1985 LTA except where tenant negligence is proven (such as flushing the wrong things down the bog) The tenant is not liable.

If the drain is damaged the property owners need to claim against their buildings insurance

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And if the LL hasn't got any building insurance (he almost certainly will have, unless both the house is mortgage-free AND he is seriously negligent!) that would be the time to move out sharpish leaving no forwarding address!

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And if the LL hasn't got any building insurance (he almost certainly will have, unless both the house is mortgage-free AND he is seriously negligent!) that would be the time to move out sharpish leaving no forwarding address!

This is really annoying me!

Typical LL gobbledegook...kick the renters in the teeth again...your asswipe attitudes on this makes me wanna puke

!!!

Oh, he's a low life renter so 'he can just move'.

Do you know what that costs?

Do you know the pressure this puts families under?

Clearly, none of you LL gives a toss!!!!!! Scum!!!

Give the guy some good advice for puts sake!!

Oh, another bad LL so the low life renters 'can just move'.

Geeeeesh!!!

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I've recently received a demand from our local council under the Local Goverment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 to remove an obstruction from a section of private sewer shared between our rented home and 8 other properties, all owner-occupied.

The letter is addressed to both the Landlord and myself and it clearly says the following:

"You are hereby notified that, in pursuance of the powers conferred on them by Section 35 of the Local Goverment (Misc Provisions) Act 1876, the Council require you (jointly with the owners/occupiers) of the following premesis, namely: to engage a competent drainage company to unblock the shared private server, care must be taken to to exacerbate the known problem with the sewer."

If we do not do anything within 48 hours the council are performing the work (which involves digging up a neighbours landscaped garden and removing some sewer) and billing us and - I presume - the other 8 householders.

There is then a quote from the act which says:

S35. (1) If a private sewer is obstructed at a point within the area of a local authority... the authority may serve on each of the persons who is an owner or occupier of premises served by the sewer, or on each of such of those persons as the authority thinks fit, a notice requiring the recipients of notices in pursuance of this subsection in respect of the obstruction to remove it before a time specified in the notice...

The way I read this, both the Landlord and/or Myself, and/or anyone else the council feels like serving notice to, can be held liable for the cost of repairs. Surely this is not the case?

For clearance of a blockage you may be liable as tenant. However if its due to a structural issue then the landlord is likely to take the hit. Basically anyone upstream of the blockage / collapse is equally responsible in law. So lets say the cost of clearing a blockage is £200 and there are 10 properties upstream then the liability per household is £20.

The notice is required in law and gives all occupiers 48 hours notice. If you sort it out privately - great. If not LA can step in and do the works in default and may also add their reasonable costs. As I said if this is structural then it will fall to your landlord. THE LA can put a charge on the property for works in default. The LL can either pay this off or it becomes an issue at the point of sale of the property.

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