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How Drains Work in an Apartment Building

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How Drains Work in an Apartment Building

While an apartment building seems like an entirely different place when compared to a single home or business, there are obviously plenty of similarities in their basic components and construction.

One huge similarity is the fact that both types of buildings will have drainage and wastewater pipes that need to be in top condition to keep things running smoothly within. The only difference is that an apartment building – or block of flats – will have a lot more wastewater to deal with as part of a slightly more complex system, but the issues you can face are much the same (see our section on common drainage issues for flats later in this piece).

But who is responsible for issues with drains in an apartment building? How does it work when there are multiple flats within one building?

how do drains work in an apartment building

Let’s break this down into two categories: first for the landlords and then the tenants, and establish each party’s responsibilities.

A landlord’s responsibilities for drains in an apartment building

If you own a block of flats, as the building owner you will be expected to keep the drains and sewers within your property boundary in good condition. Any issues that occur outside the individual flats – usually on the land surrounding the building – are your responsibility. Issues occurring beyond your property boundary, meanwhile, are usually for the local water company to deal with.

You will, however, be responsible for the plumbing and drainage within each flat or apartment if you rent it out. Under section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, landlords must:

“keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling-house for the supply of water, gas and electricity and for sanitation (including basins, sinks, baths and sanitary conveniences, but not other fixtures, fittings and appliances for making use of the supply of water, gas or electricity).”

A tenant’s responsibilities for drains in an apartment building

As the tenant renting the flat or apartment, you can reasonably expect your landlord to keep things in a good state of repair, as mentioned in the previous section.

However, you will be expected to take reasonable care of the property in general, including drains, sinks, toilets, etc, to avoid issues. This means making sure that any blockages are seen to and that you’re not putting things down your drain that shouldn’t be. This covers a variety of things such as oils and fats being incorrectly disposed of down drains and not flushing items down any toilets that aren’t designed to be disposed of in this way, such as wipes and sanitary towels.

Issues can arise elsewhere in the building or on the property that could impact your flat, but these would be for your landlord to deal with in accordance with their responsibilities to you.

drains in apartments

Common drainage issues in apartment buildings

Just like any property with wastewater pipes, there are a variety of issues that can arise with the drainage system. This includes:

Blocked drains –

If the drains leading away from the property are blocked, this can cause wastewater to back up into the properties within. Alternatively, if the blockage is within the sink, bath, shower or toilet drain, this should be dealt with in the flat itself to avoid further issues.

Sewage smells –

When drains start to emit sewage smells within a property, it’s clear that there is an issue. However, it can be far more difficult to establish the cause of this since there will be individual properties for the landlord to investigate before the problem can be rectified, unless the issue stems from a section of the drains outside of the building.

Mould and water stains on walls and ceilings –

This is often simply put down to humidity and ventilation issues in flats, but it could be that there is a leak within a wall or floor that is allowing water to accumulate where it shouldn’t.

If you own a property in the Home Counties of Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire, including Watford and Aylesbury, and require drain unblocking, drain jetting or general drain repairs, look no further than Power Rod. We can even carry out a CCTV drain survey to help discover the cause of the problem if you’ve got a block of flats or a portfolio of properties and need to get to the bottom of things.

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