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Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 26070
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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We need clarification about our rights regarding septic tank

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Hi there, we need clarification about our rights regarding septic tank soakways. Our soakaway drains have historically been located on our neighbour side of the fence. Our septic tank is not far from the boundary and they are obviously on the down hill side.
It has been brought to our attention by the council enforcement officer that the septic out flow from our property is no longer connected to our soakway drains on our neighbour property. Instead they have been redirected into a cut off drain immediately on the neighbours side of the fence. This drain then runs the outflow from our septic tank directly onto the Forest.
This is obviously not a satifactory situation at all. We dont know who dug the cut off drain. It might be the current neighbour, who have been there for about a year. Or it might be the previous owner.
The previous owner was aware our soakaways was situated on her land as she had given the previous owner of our property the right to do so. Though we have nothing to say so in writing or on our titles etc.
Is it legal for a neighbour to create this cutoff drain?
If not, is it reasonable that they should reinstate our drains?
Considering they have not shown themselves to be in anyway friendly and so it is unlikely they will reinstate the drains, do we have the right to enter their property to inspect and carry out necessary works.
We can't allow the drains to function as they are and seek clear guidelines as to our rights and responsibilities. Thank you

Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practising lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.

  1. May I enquire roughly how old the septic tank installation is?
  2. From what you say you have no rights to drain onto the neighbours land in your title deeds?
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
1. The septic tank system was already when we purchased the property in 1997.
2. Yes that's right. Nothing is mention on the title deeds.

Thank you. I am suprised there is nothing in your title deeds as there should be a right to drain onto your neighbours property if a soakaway is installed so as to drain onto that land. Your solicitor should have checked this for you when you purchased though you are 5 years out of time to bring any claim against your solicitor at this time if he did not.

Sometimes rights are contained within a referenced document on your deeds. If you would like me look at your title deeds to confirm I would be happy to do so if you have a digital copy available that you can upload?

Subject to the above you would need to show twenty years of drainage onto your neighbours land to claim a right By long use under the Prescription Act. From what you say, you have lived in the property for either just under or just over 20 years but you are not certain when the greens were disconnected. You may therefore need the assistance of a previous owner or nearby neighbour who has personal knowledge of the situation in order to establish more than 20 years of drainage onto your neighbour's land. If you can do so, you can consider claiming a prescriptive right to Continue to drain onto their property which can be registered at the land Registry.

In terms of how you may consider proceding, First of all you may wish to establish whether you have any legal right by express grant in your deeds (so far as you ar not already aware) Or if you can claim a right by long use as above. If you can show either of these things then you can require that your drainage is reconnected to your soak ways. If you are unable to show right drain into soakaways on The above grounds, Then you will be reliant upon your neighbours good graces to enable you to reconnect to soakaways.

If your neighbour is unwilling to allow you to reconnect to the Segways and you cannot show right to do so, you would need to consider a fallback position of retaining a drainage contractor to engineer a new drainage solution on your land.

Does the above answer all your questions? If it does, I should be very grateful if you would kindly take a moment to click a rating for my service to you today. Your feedback is important to me. If there is anything else I can help with please reply back to me though

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