Real life MMD: Should we ask 'em for cash?

edited 31 May 2011 at 7:46PM in Money Saving Polls
34 replies 19.8K views
edited 31 May 2011 at 7:46PM in Money Saving Polls
Should we ask 'em for cash?


We live in a 12-year-old house and recently our downstairs toilet's been losing water, as has our neighbour's. The water board has told us there is a drop in the underground pipe that needs to be fixed or we're at risk it breaking and raw sewage spilling over the top of our toilet. We've been quoted £2,000 to have it done, but as the pipe's used by all 10 houses we feel the other households should share the cost. But they don't have a problem with their toilets yet (we're the end house). Are we within our rights to ask our neighbours to contribute?
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  • higginsbhigginsb Forumite
    20 Posts
    We had the something similar a few years ago. 8 houses on the drain run, we had no probs, but other houses had blockages as the sewer was collapsing. We had already had our end of the pipe replaced when we built an extension several years previously, but still had to contribute to the cost of renewing the sewer - BUT it was covered by our buildings insurance policy, so only had to pay the excess. Check your policy to see if this is included on yours.
  • I know this doesn't answer your question but have you been back and checked with your water company? Most private sewers will soon be switching to public which means that come about October time there's a high chance that your water company will be responsible for the cost of repairing the sewer. (Search Private to Public sewer transfer or something similar. Or go look at Water UK and they should have some info on it) If your sewer is switching they might pay half of it or make some offer to save you just leaving it until the switch when they would then have to pay for all of it. You might not be willing to wait that long but just in case!!
  • SkoorbSkoorb Forumite
    37 Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10 Posts Combo Breaker
    I know this doesn't answer your question but have you been back and checked with your water company? Most private sewers will soon be switching to public which means that come about October time there's a high chance that your water company will be responsible for the cost of repairing the sewer. (Search Private to Public sewer transfer or something similar. Or go look at Water UK and they should have some info on it) If your sewer is switching they might pay half of it or make some offer to save you just leaving it until the switch when they would then have to pay for all of it. You might not be willing to wait that long but just in case!!

    That's a great pointer (though if insurance covers it now that may be the way to go). I've dug up the reference you mentioned, though I cannot post links, so you'll have to do a bit of copying and pasting. It's at www[DOT]water.org.uk/home/policy/private-sewers-transfer/customer-info/faqs

    The transfer timetable is here: www[DOT]water.org.uk/home/policy/private-sewers-transfer/timetable

    The Consumer Council for Water also has (less useful) info avalaible at www[DOT]ccwater.org.uk/server.php?show=ConWebDoc.2316

    I HTH people.
  • Dunx69Dunx69 Forumite
    183 Posts
    I know this doesn't answer your question but have you been back and checked with your water company? Most private sewers will soon be switching to public which means that come about October time there's a high chance that your water company will be responsible for the cost of repairing the sewer. (Search Private to Public sewer transfer or something similar. Or go look at Water UK and they should have some info on it) If your sewer is switching they might pay half of it or make some offer to save you just leaving it until the switch when they would then have to pay for all of it. You might not be willing to wait that long but just in case!!

    Yup your right, wait until October then it wont cost you a penny. Although they may be in no rush to fix it themselves until it actually breaks.
    All hail the Jack Daniels Swozzler!:beer:
  • PellymanPellyman Forumite
    53 Posts
    The answer seems to have been provided already (above).

    If your buildings insurance doesn't cover it (apart from the excess) then the water company should certainly offer you a much reduced price now if they are going to have to pay for the whole thing if you (and the sewer) can hold out until October.

    Sounds as if the other houses can risk holding out, at least until your end collapses, so don't expect too much sympathy there - but there is no harm in asking as it's their sewerage you will be suffering from. I assume you've checked that there is no help from the builder's original guarantee seeing as it's only twelve years old.

    Best of luck.
  • SuperLouSuperLou Forumite
    3 Posts
    I believe the answer to this question depends on when a house (or rather the sewer) was built (i.e. before or after 1 October 1937), but you say your house is only 12 years old so it is clearly after that. In that case, it is a private sewer (at the moment) and the owners of all the houses using the private sewer are jointly responsible to clear and repair it. Look on your council website, probably in the Environmental Protection section.
  • jantobyjantoby Forumite
    9 Posts
    Had similar problem some months ago. It was reported to Council (even though they're not Council properties) who sent people in to investigate. Upshot was under Environmental laws it HAD to be fixed - if the owners of all properties that emptied into the pipe - 6 properties in our case - didn't get it repaired, the Council would have the necessary work done, identify the owners and would split the cost and invoice each property separately. So that's what we did. That way (a) it was fixed and (b) no one individual had the hassle of getting payment from the other 5 owners.
  • beebo_2beebo_2 Forumite
    6 Posts
    It's also important to check your deeds to see who is currently liable. Also check for any residual guarantee you may have from the builder, particularly if it is found to be faulty workmanship. The drainage should have been inspected & tested by the building inspector (the Local Authority?) at the time of construction who could be held jointly responsible for any latent defects. If you take advice from the Environmental Health Dept at your local council they could force you to carry out the repairs immediately on the ground of a health risk. They could possible carry out the repairs on your behalf & charge you, although this would be a last resort situation. I would be just as concerned about any damage to your foundations if the pipe did break. Get it repaired ASAP if I were you. Hope this helps & doesn't confuse you too much
  • edited 1 June 2011 at 10:11AM
    A.JonesA.Jones Forumite
    508 Posts
    edited 1 June 2011 at 10:11AM
    The actual question is:

    Are we within our rights to ask our neighbours to contribute?

    The answer is yes, you are within your rights to ask your neighbours to contribute, just as you have the right (assuming they have no restraining order against you) to ask them to contribute to anything you like - drains, fences on boundaries, flowers in your garden, your holiday. However, they have the right to refuse to pay anything if you ask.

    As to this bit ...

    > recently our downstairs toilet's been losing water

    Have you asked a plumber. If the toilet is losing water, then it sounds like the toilet is leaking. The water in the toilet is usually at a constant height, equal to that of the siphon at the back of the toilet. If you pour more water in, the level does not rise, since it drains through the syphon at the back. So if the toilet is losing water then either it is leaking, or there is low pressure on the foul side. This seems like the opposite of what the water board are saying. Maybe they are just trying to scare you into getting it replaced before they are responsible. Some water companies behave like crooks, sending out (usually it is another company that does it on behalf of the water company) threatening letters that look like bills for insurance that is not needed.
  • Enterprise_1701CEnterprise_1701C Forumite
    23.4K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Photogenic Mortgage-free Glee!
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    When we have problems with our sewers we are the ones that find out first as we are the last in the row. We then go along to the other 3 houses and let them know what is going on and everyone makes a contribution.

    I would also be looking for more quotes.
    What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare
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