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  • FIRST POST
    Former MSE Penelope
    Real life MMD: Should we ask 'em for cash?
    • #1
    • 31st May 11, 5:40 PM
    Real life MMD: Should we ask 'em for cash? 31st May 11 at 5:40 PM
    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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    Last edited by Former MSE Penelope; 31-05-2011 at 7:46 PM.
Page 1
    • higginsb
    • By higginsb 31st May 11, 10:03 PM
    • 20 Posts
    • 69 Thanks
    higginsb
    • #2
    • 31st May 11, 10:03 PM
    • #2
    • 31st May 11, 10:03 PM
    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.
  • RainyDay2011
    • #3
    • 1st Jun 11, 12:24 AM
    • #3
    • 1st Jun 11, 12:24 AM
    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!!
    • Skoorb
    • By Skoorb 1st Jun 11, 12:50 AM
    • 32 Posts
    • 35 Thanks
    Skoorb
    • #4
    • 1st Jun 11, 12:50 AM
    • #4
    • 1st Jun 11, 12:50 AM
    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!!
    Originally posted by RainyDay2011
    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.
  • Dunx69
    • #5
    • 1st Jun 11, 8:17 AM
    • #5
    • 1st Jun 11, 8:17 AM
    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!!
    Originally posted by RainyDay2011
    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!
  • Pellyman
    • #6
    • 1st Jun 11, 8:38 AM
    • #6
    • 1st Jun 11, 8:38 AM
    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.
  • SuperLou
    • #7
    • 1st Jun 11, 8:49 AM
    • #7
    • 1st Jun 11, 8:49 AM
    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.
  • jantoby
    • #8
    • 1st Jun 11, 9:30 AM
    Shared sewer pipe
    • #8
    • 1st Jun 11, 9:30 AM
    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
    • By beebo 1st Jun 11, 9:35 AM
    • 6 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    beebo
    • #9
    • 1st Jun 11, 9:35 AM
    • #9
    • 1st Jun 11, 9:35 AM
    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
    • A.Jones
    • By A.Jones 1st Jun 11, 9:51 AM
    • 506 Posts
    • 441 Thanks
    A.Jones
    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.
    Last edited by A.Jones; 01-06-2011 at 10:11 AM.
    • Enterprise 1701C
    • By Enterprise 1701C 1st Jun 11, 10:19 AM
    • 20,375 Posts
    • 215,342 Thanks
    Enterprise 1701C
    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
    • pennypinchUK
    • By pennypinchUK 1st Jun 11, 10:36 AM
    • 382 Posts
    • 732 Thanks
    pennypinchUK
    I don't know about the legal position, but the normal rule is that you are responsible for utility maintenance and repair requirements that occur beyond the input supply to your property. So it's just unfortunate that your neighbours may be contributing to the resulting damage, although the problem is yours. Unfortunately then, you're stuck with the bill.

    Are you not insured for this?
  • dumble
    Hi I had similar problem some time ago. I live in a close of approx 20 properties. Roots from a tree entered the sewer of a neighbour several properties along the close from us and broke the sewer pipe and hence blockage. The neighbour had to have the garden dug up and new pipes laid. It transpired that everyone in the close is responsible for the upkeep/repair of the sewers untill it joins the main sewer. Most people are covered by buildings insurance for this. The neighbours insurance requested insurance details from all the properties "upstream" so to speak from the damage, but not those "down stream" and so not effected by the blockage. The insurance companies talked to each other to sort the problem and the final bill for repair was shared between the seven properties upstream. We were informed by our own insurance of our share of the cost claimed from them and that the bill had been paid on our behalf by them to the neighbours insurance who then paid the whole bill. I think you wouls find this will apply to you also and all properties on the branch upstream of the problem are liable for a share of the cost of repair despite it not being on their property. It did not effect the premium we had to pay the following year for our buildings insurance.
    • silvercar
    • By silvercar 1st Jun 11, 11:36 AM
    • 38,116 Posts
    • 160,283 Thanks
    silvercar
    We have separate plumbing and drainage insurance as well as building insurance. We started to take this out after we had a similar problem, our neighbour was happy to contribute but the next neighbour along refused.

    Their argument was that they had taken out all sorts of insurances to cover the cost of this sort of thing and so refused to pay. They did contact their insurer who said they would have covered the full cost (less excess) had the problem been within the boundary of the property they were insuring, nothing otherwise. The neighbours said that having made the choice to pay for insurance they weren't going to pay out for a neighbours problem when the neighbour could have chosen to insure.
  • Smithills
    Speak to your local Envronmental Health Team. I have dealt with incidents like this in the past that have affected local rivers- I think all those that discharge into the affected pipe, whether affected or not have joint liability (the phrase "jointly and severally" springs to mind, but I'm not a lawyer!). EH will help you to resolve the problem equally between you all.

    Some remedial work may need doing on the sewer- but again, it's the responsibility of all of you, not just you by function of being at the end.

    EH can serve notice if it gets to that stage, but as with all these sorts of things, talking to all at an early stage can help smooth things along.

    Good Luck
    Won Mulberry Bag Jan 09
    • jkgray
    • By jkgray 1st Jun 11, 2:09 PM
    • 194 Posts
    • 50 Thanks
    jkgray
    This could be of assistance until october

    http://www.argos.co.uk/static/Product/partNumber/7151354/c_1/1|category_root|Garden%20and%20DIY|14418702/c_2/2|14418702|Home%20security|14418707/c_3/3|cat_14418707|Home%20safety%20and%20alarms|144187 08.htm?storeId=10001&referredURL=http%3A%2F%2Fwww. argos.co.uk%2Fstatic%2FProduct%2FpartNumber%2F7151 354%2Fc_1%2F1|category_root|Garden+and+DIY|1441870 2%2Fc_2%2F2|14418702|Home+security|14418707%2Fc_3% 2F3|cat_14418707|Home+safety+and+alarms|14418708.h tm&jspStoreDir=argos&_%24ja=tsid%3A11674|prd%3A201 0640&referrer=COJUN&cmpid=COJUN
    • JayD
    • By JayD 1st Jun 11, 3:30 PM
    • 516 Posts
    • 326 Thanks
    JayD
    I am not knowledgable regarding your legal position and the advice given above re claiming on your insurance and checking to see if the Water Board will soon be responsible seems extremely useful.

    But your 'dilemma' doesn't address an important point - have you asked any of your non-suffering neighbours about this at all? Have you explained the problem and asked if they would be willing to share the cost to defray any possible future sewage leaks in their homes?
  • Jublet
    Echoing Jantoby above, if you contact the Environmental Services department at your local council they will try to get all of the households affected to contribute on a voluntary basis. However, if no agreement is reached they have the power to get a contractor to do the work and then the Council will invoice each household for their share of the cost.
  • sweetsl
    Okay, lets imagine that the problem is with another shared resource e.g. your roof. Let's say that you lived in a top floor flat and the roof is leaking. Yes, it is your problem that you have water running down the walls, and yes, it will take some time until the neighbours below start to have a problem, but they do still have to pay. It is a shared aspect of the building. So, I can't see how this is any different to your situation. The problem, whether directly affecting others yet or not still means that they should pay. Tell your neighbours what the problems is and say it in a way that they don't think that they have an option regarding paying their share. Even with agreement though, you need to think about how you are going to ensure that they all pay up once the work is done - if you contract the work to be done, you are responsible for paying in full. Get your neighbours to sign something in advance.
    • tallgirld
    • By tallgirld 1st Jun 11, 6:40 PM
    • 475 Posts
    • 315 Thanks
    tallgirld
    You may not be responsible for the underground pipe. Check your deeds.
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