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Stuart J
Stuart J, Solicitor
Category: UK Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 22620
Experience:  PGD Law. 20 years legal profession, 6 as partner in High Street practice
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I have lived in one of two semi-detached cottages for 7 years.

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I have lived in one of two semi-detached cottages for 7 years. The 270year old former Smithy was many years ago gutted, modernised and made into two semi-detached properties, we live on the right and Mr A lives on the left. Mr A had a pond in his garden which also had a pipe which took away any excess away which went underground and was properly connected to the front of the property. When we moved here we became aware that Mr A's garden used to flood mainly in the autumn/winter during high rainfall. Clearly the exit pipe was set too high. That has now been sorted. Neither of us could understand where the water was actually coming from. Last year things changed. April saw a months rain fall in just a few hours and that was where my problems started as i now got a lot of water entering into my garden by the steps which leads up to the upper part of the garden. On digging up by the steps i found there was a pipe which it seems, was blocked for some time but water had found a way in. The source of the water is from the ditch which runs along 10 acres of land and which is now owned by neighbours to the right of me. just outside the back of my garden is a 4inch clay pipe which takes the water away from the ditch and and along under my garden and into A's garden. We have since put inspection pits in each of our back gardens and a connecting 6 inch pipe to enable the water to flow but it has still floooded and i still get a fair amount of water leaking into my garden probably due to fractures in the old clay pipe due to the pressure from the floods last year. I have asked next door 'B' if they would consider putting a relief pipe in which by-passes mine and A's homes and offered to go halves but they were not happy. Where do i stand legally with all the water coming into my garden as i fear we may flood. I believe it is after all water coming off next doors land?
What is his reason for refusing?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

they didnt give one. They have moved into their property which came with a small livery yard 2 years ago and a year ago they purchased the land at the back so they were unaware of the issues which my neighbour Mr A had when he tried to sort it wth the original owners - a farmer and landowner. (The land was 'set aside'). They never gave me a reason for declining but i suppose it could be that they didnt want the ownership/legl maintenance of it

My neighbour Mr A who has muted to block the pipe at his end which would obviously cause serious problems for me and i do not want to be forced into doing the same thus creating large amount of bitterness amongst us in a small village.

However that said, i have to protect my home. This is somewhat quite a complex issue which over the years has manifested itself without ever taking into account the worsening weather patterns we seem to have been suffering. Difficult one this eh?

****Further to***The neighbours B, who own the ditch and adjoining land did suggest to me that they feel that the current old clay pipes are no longer man enough to cope with the large volumes of rainwater we have witrnessed and i guess they are correct. it is almost impossible to get easy access to the pipe underground in my garden due to the depth as my back garden is two-tier due to the differences in height. this was already a feature here before i moved in. However, we have made proper attempts to replace and improve the pipes where we can. Not sure if this will have a bearingon anything but i am trying to be completely transparent in all the information as i want an accurate opinion beofre i consider my next steps.


Let me confirm facts.

Bs land drains through a clay pipe which isnt big enough. As a result yr land and neighbours land floods. Is that it in a nutshell?

Assuming you footed the whole bill, what would a new pipe cost?

Will A contribute? B appears to say no

What is the exact cause of the flooding? Is it coming off Bs land?

When was the clay pipe put in ?

Who else benefits from it?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

1) The land drains B was referring to were the ones buried in our gardens which is simply isnt big enough to take the volume. Now, when it rains heavily, i get water running down from my steps and towards my house and A gets a load too.

(Last April i had to take drastic measures to keep the water from entering my house with the use of sandbags from a local farmer.)


2) If i was to foot the whole bill for the job i estimate it to be around £1500 but that is using my contacts of friends with JVC's etc. I need to point out that i do not think B's issue is the cost, i formed the opinion that she was worried about the legal implications/maintenance and also the legal issue of connecting a new pipe into the main brick culvert at the bottom of the road. The existing pipe eventuall discharges our water into there but via our back and front gardens.


3) A' has not said no but A is out of work so will find it difficult meeting the cost. If need be, i would be prepared to foot the bill but the simple case i would like to know, WHO's responsibility should all this be because i am conflicting information (friends, not legal) when they state that it is B's water so they should be responsible? I am not entirely convinced with this argument as all the drainage pipes were in existence long before we all moved into ouur respective homes.


4) the water is coming off B's land and i guess some of the water also comes from inter-connecting ditches from adjacent fields which are owned by others.


5)I have absolutely no idea when the pipes were put in as they were old drainage pipes from when the land was ploughed/worked. As they are of clay,i guess it was decades ago.


No-one else other than myself and A will benefit from any resolution to the problem as unfortunately, mine and A's properties appear to sit at the lowest point and naturally, the water will want to find its way to the lowest point. Neither B or other neighbouring properties have this problem but there does appear to be a similar problem further down the road. I have spoken to the occupier.Fortunately for him, the water coming off the land at the back flows along his drive and down onto the road so isnt any threat to hhis property.

Assuming that your 2 houses were not there and the pipes didn't exist, what effect would that have on Bs land?

It appears that the pipes were put in to prevent this flooding your lower properties but are now broken or not enough. is that it?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

1) it would have little or no effect on B's land as the ater does not spill onto their land.


2) I cant answer that as i simply do not know. However, the clay pipes in the field at the back of us are i understand a normal feature in farming.

I formed the opinion that when the original property was a Smithy, they arrranged with the farmer to pipe water from that ditch which was probably how the pond in A's garden was formed. They would have definatey put the exit pipe in A's garden to do exactly that - stop any flooding. I cant answer when this what put in though.

It should be noted that both 'A' and myself have up until now worked together to try and alleviate the issue as we obviously have a common iintterest to prevent any flooding. Were it not for the new manholes we inserted and together with hired pumps, we both would have flooded.


I know this is confusing but i will throw a little more information your way.

The Land was up until abut 3 years ago in the ownership of the local farmer/landwowwner. 'A' tried to hold him to account about the water issue and it never was resolved.

The farmer then sold the land to Douglas from London. Both i and A made an approach to him to assist us with the issue. He agreed to dig out two large pits. One near to the back of us and the other further up the field.

This was to act as a relief for excess water. It was only in existence for about 14 months or so and in that time we did not experience any adverse weather. When the land was purchased off Douglas by B, by consent of all of us it was filled back in as i understand B wanted to clear her new land to make it safe for her horses to roam.

It should also be noted there is currently no issues or animosity between any of us but i want to know where we all stand.

It appears that
the water would not back up on B's land
or cause excess flooding if the pipes did not exist and it appears that the pipes were put in to prevent the run-off from
B's land affecting the two houses of you and your neighbour.

Those pipes are
no broken or inadequate.

Therefore,B has
the burden and you have the benefit and the burden

In law, there is
a doctrine of mutual benefit and burden. If anyone has the benefit of something
than they also have the burden of repairing whatever it is that they get benefit

In this case
therefore B has no benefit from the pipe at all but merely the burden and
therefore he is not obliged (or she is not obliged) to pay for any new pipework.

She does however
have to give you consent to replace the pipework (if that is what is required)
but you must reinstate the land.

It appears that
both you and the neighbour have the benefit of this pipe and therefore both you
and the neighbour have the burden of replacing or repairing it but B does not

Does that answer
the question? Can I assist further?

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

hi, the responses have what i had roughly expected. The only one other burning issue i have is this; if B does at some point block the pipe at his end this could cause me a real problem so where do i stand legally then?


If B blocks the
pipe you can apply to court for an emergency injunction (and costs) to compel
her to open it up again. You can also claim for any damage resulting from the
blocked pipe.

Even if it is not
documented, after 20 years, you have an easement under the Prescription Act for
the pipe to remain in place unhindered

Does that answer
the question? Can I assist further?

Please don't
forget to positively rate my answer service (even if it was not what you want
to hear). If you don't rate it positively, then the site keep your deposit and
I get 0 for my time. It is imperative that you give my answer a positive
rating. It doesn't give me "a pat on the head", "good boy" (like ebay), it is
my livelihood!

If in ratings you feel that you expected more or it only helped a little,
please ask.

Stuart J and other UK Property Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Excellent. thank you very much for your time.

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