Escape of water from underground drainpipe. Who is responsible?

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    Escape of water from underground drainpipe. Who is responsible?

    Hello everyone,

    I hope you might be able to offer some advice.

    We share title deeds between five residents in our block, and 3 businesses and seven residents in the adjoining Tenement block. We are Factored by the same agent and share a party wall.

    The block next door, who we share a party wall with, has extensive damage to brickwork and lintels in the form of cracks and sagging. Our part of the building, specifically underneath my window, is now showing signs of movement and the front of the building has moved forward slightly over the past few years. The building Factor hired Structural Engineers two years ago. They recommended extensive remedial work to correct the damage highlighting that the building was suffering from ongoing movement. Before any remedial work could be undertaken, it was recommended that the drain be dug up in the garden because they believed the problems could be related to an escape of water from the pipe that carries rainwater away from the building, or the pipe had collapsed. The Factor informed us that all the residents would have to pay for a test pit to be dug, as the pipe ran through our garden. Also, we would have to pay for a permit to dig it up as work would infringe upon the Council owned public walkway/pavement. Unfortunately, the majority of residents abstained from the vote (I don't know why) so the Factor didn't pursue the issue any further.

    I have only recently been made aware that we don't own the garden. The ownership of the garden is held by Land Services and Parks. They completely denied they held ownership until one of the neighbors discovered that they had acquired the land prior to the building being sold off as individual flats. They say the residents have been 'using' the land as a garden, even though the garden and surrounding railings have been there as long as anyone in the street can remember. Land Services and Parks have now been forced acknowledge that they own the land in front of the building and are responsible for the upkeep of the garden and railings.

    Here is the issue...I know that the rainwater pipe that runs down the front of the building is owned by all the residents, and we own the open space around it until it meets the soil/cement. And we would all be responsible for all repairs. But if the pipe has collapsed or is in need of repair underneath the ground, and is on private land owned by the Council, does this mean they have the responsibility to maintain it? I know it's an odd question to ask. I have asked another Structural Engineer for advice. He has reiterated what the other engineers said originally and confirmed that the pipe doesn't run underneath the building - It feeds down from the roof, and kicks out into the garden, which is outwith our property boundary. He says the pipe has to be dug up as soon as possible as the movement is only occurring at the section of the building where the pipe is located. Also, water is constantly backing up through the pipe and leaking in to the brickwork at either side of the joints, even after it's cleared.

    Scottish Water have said it's an Environmental Health issue because they only take responsibility when the pipe joins the sewer. Environmental Health have then passed the query over to Building Control because I mentioned building movement. And now Building Control are saying it has to be raised as a communal repair via the Factor because the building isn't seen as being dangerous.

    So aye, I am a wee bit confused to who is responsible for digging up the pipe?

    Any advice would be very much appreciated.


    Ask your local MSP to poke Scottish Water- it may be true that if the drain affects more than one property Scottish Water are liable.


      Hate asking such a strange question. I think a visit to the local MSP will be my next step, after getting a drainage survey done to prove that the pipe is 100 % on their land. I've got a funny feeling this could go on and on

      Thank you so much for responding and have a nice night. Really appreciated.


        I don't know the answer in your case but I think it's unlikely. Our neighbour's water pipe and drains run across our land. He has the right to maintain them but they haven't become our responsibility just because they run under our land. This is a rural property and he has no access to a road except across our land.
        There may be something on it in the deeds.


          Hi Royw!

          It's a total long shot on my part, to be honest. I did have a nice guy come out from the water board who offered invaluable advice regarding where pipes usually go. They're coming back out as they assume it's either through the garden, street, or under the building. The third option, and hopefully it's not the case, would mean a huge job of digging a meter hole through cement. Happy days. The title deeds are very specific with regard to owner responsibilities regarding upkeep and repair. They talk about the drains under the assumption that the land is owned by the residents (I will have to get a solicitor to have a look over them as I am probably wrong) I did ask a lawyer who deals with property law and she was quite confused by the question, so it's not a question that gets asked very often.

          Honestly, thank you for taking the time out to write a reply. Any advice is always appreciated. Thanks again Royw.


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