As a tenant, dealing with a blocked or slow drain can be a nuisance. But before calling out a plumber, it's important to understand who is responsible for clearing and paying for drain blockages in a rented property. The answer may be in your tenancy agreement.
Legally, the landlord retains certain obligations under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. This includes keeping the property and services like drains in good repair and proper working condition.
However, this does not necessarily mean the landlord is liable for all drain blockages. Their responsibility depends on the cause and location of the blockage.
If the source is a structural defect, gradual buildup of debris in old pipes, roots growing into drains, or collapse of the drain itself, the landlord is usually responsible for clearing it and paying the cost. These issues are considered wear and tear or lack of maintenance.
Tenants have a duty to use rented facilities reasonably and report issues early to prevent damage. Under most tenancy agreements, tenants can be held responsible for clearing and paying for blockages resulting from misuse or negligence.
Common tenant-caused clogs include:
- Pouring fats, oils, and grease down the sink - these solidify and coat pipes.
- Flushing hygiene products, baby wipes, cotton buds and other non-flushables which get stuck.
- Allowing hair, food waste, and buildups to clog shower and sink drains.
- Flushing toys, utensils, and other foreign objects which jam pipes.
- Planting intrusive shrubs, trees, and plants whose roots invade drains.
If a plumber investigates and finds the blockage source is due to tenant activities, the tenant will be required to cover the cost of clearing it.
Simple habits can reduce the chances of you causing a blockage:
- Never pour fats and oils down the sink - collect in a container and bin it instead.
- Only flush pee, poo, and toilet paper down the toilet. Dispose of other items in the bin.
- Use drain strainers to catch hair and food scraps when washing up.
- Avoid planting invasive vegetation with root systems near drains.
- Report slow draining to your landlord early before it leads to a complete clog.
Getting It Resolved
If you have a blocked drain, notify your Agent promptly and clarify the tenancy agreement obligations. Be prepared to show you have taken care to use drains properly and not contributed to the issue. With open communication and awareness of tenancy obligations, drain problems can be rectified smoothly (or avoided altogether).
We find that most blockages are from Hair, food, feminine products, which comes down to tenant responsiblity so prevention is cheaper and better than cure.