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Is the Tenant or Landlord Responsible for Blocked Drains?

Updated: Aug 2


Blocked toilet.
Blocked toilet, sink or drain often emits unpleasant or foul smells and slows down water draining.

One of the most common questions that need to be clarified when renting is who is responsible for blocked drains - is it the tenant or landlord? It could be a significant cause of disagreement between the two parties if not appropriately understood.


Ensuring that your clogs are maintained accordingly, especially during the autumn and winter when leaves start to fall, is necessary since they tend to clog the gutters and block drains. A blocked toilet, sink or drain often emits unpleasant or foul smells and slows down water draining.


Trying to figure out who is responsible for a blocked drain can be tricky, especially if the tenancy agreement doesn’t clearly define these issues and doesn’t define drainage boundaries. This is why it’s necessary to have a detailed individual tenancy agreement in place to lay out the specific information on your and your landlord’s responsibilities.


Mr Plumber uses CCTV and water jetting technology to clear blocked drains. We’re available 247 and travel throughout south east Melbourne.


Knowing when it’s your or your responsibility, or the landlord’s, is necessary so drainage problems can be addressed immediately before they become a bigger issue that can cause a rift in your relationship as tenant and landlord.


Who Is Responsible For Blocked Drains - Tenant Or Landlord?



Landlord tenant law.
It is usually the responsibility of the landlord to ensure that the property is in good condition and fit to live in. On the other hand, it is the responsibility of the tenant to maintain the condition of the property, and make sure it's clean and damage-free.

In simple terms, finding out who is responsible for blocked drains, whether it's the tenant or landlord depends on who’s at fault for the blockage? However, it can sometimes get confusing for landlords and tenants to figure out how a drain got blocked due to the process needed to diagnose these problems.


In most cases, the true issue may not show up until a plumber checks them out to identify the root cause of blockages. If a blockage is caused by tree roots then it will be the landlord's responsibility. If the blockage is caused by objects that came from the tenant, then the tenant will be liable. It is usually the responsibility of the landlord to ensure that the property is in good condition and fit to live in. On the other hand, it is the responsibility of the tenant to maintain the condition of the property, and make sure it's clean and damage-free.


Nevertheless, problems such as block drains are common. In simple terms, the blocked drain is the responsibility of the landlord if:


  • The landlord caused the damage.

  • It is a drainpipe blockage that results from wear and tear such as age, storm damage and tree roots.

  • Nobody’s fault. As the owner of the property, the landlord should take responsibility for such issues.


The blocked drain becomes the tenant’s responsibility if:


  • It was an accident the tenant caused, such as objects accidentally dropping into the sink or hair clogging up the pipes in the bathroom.

  • The drain blockage is the tenant’s fault.


The tenant is also responsible for removing the items that caused the blockage, including paying for the removal of objects causing the blockage and any other related damages.


Who Owns the Drains on My Property?


When it comes to private wastewater pipes, property owners are responsible up until the pipes reach the lines of Melbourne water.


A drain blockage may indicate that an issue is caused by a private property if:


  • Your property doesn’t share the drainage with other properties.

  • There’s only an overflow when you’re using water on your property

  • Your neighbours don’t experience the same problem

  • there has been no flooding within your area.


How Do I Find Out Where My Drains Are Running?


Checking the drainage diagram before you buy or lease a property can save you money in the long run. A drainage diagram shows the layout of the property and the location of the pipes, including which part connects to the main wastewater system.


Who Is Responsible for Clearing Blocked Drains?


In most cases, the landlords or the owner of the property is the one responsible for clearing blocked drains. But in some instances, the local council is the one held accountable to fix the drainage issues. It goes back to who’s ultimately at fault for blocking the drain. The responsibility may ultimately sit with the tenant if it is found that they caused the blockage. If there is any question a plumber can assist in finding out where the blockage came from.


What Are the Most Common Signs Of Blocked Drains?



Pealed vegetable skin drop in the sink.
If the object causing the drain blockage starts breaking down, it will most likely emit a foul smell around the sinks, toilets, drains, and showers.

Blocked drains are some of the most common plumbing issues most households encounter. It’s crucial to detect such problems at their early stages to prevent them from getting worse. Some signs of blocked drains you should look for include:


  • Slow draining of water: The sink, in particular, should be able to easily and steadily drain without any bubbles appearing or backwashing. If you notice that it drains slower than usual, that’s usually a sign that there is debris or buildup in your pipes.


  • Odd smell: It is one of the most apparent signs of blocked drains. If the object causing the drain blockage starts breaking down, it will most likely emit a foul smell around the sinks, toilets, drains, and showers.


  • Drains making a gurgling noise: Another possible early sign of blocked drains is gurgling or other kinds of unusual noises coming from the pipes, as this could mean the water is struggling to drain efficiently.


Blocked Drains Home Remedies


When dealing with blocked drains, there are home remedies that you can perform to solve minor blockages such as:


  • Boil two litres of hot water and add a few tablespoons of liquid dish soap to remove grease clogs.


  • Mix a quarter cup of salt with a quarter cup of Borax, and add half a cup of vinegar - and add to a pot of boiling water and then rinse with hot water to clear all ingredients down the drain.


  • Mix about half a cup of baking soda and salt each. Pour onto the drain and allow it to sit for at least half an hour or overnight before pouring a pot of boiling water.


While home remedies may offer temporary solutions for unblocking drains, it’s still best to call a plumber to have your pipes checked so they can properly diagnose the real problem and fix it before it gets worse.


What Causes Blocked Drains?



Sink pipe leaking.
The tiniest leaks or cracks in your underground pipes can draw tree root growth, and once inside the pipes, tree roots grow fast, causing obstruction in water flow and pipe damage.

Blocked drains and clogged pipes may start as minor issues but can escalate quickly into bigger problems. Blocked drains can cause corrosion, slow water drainage, flooding, and in extreme cases, sewage backup and expensive repairs.


To prevent such problems, you must know the common causes of clogged drains.


  • Food waste: Even when you have a garbage disposal in your sink, food waste such as coffee grounds and tea leaves should never go down the drain. Other foods that you need to be careful of are oil or grease as they will turn solid in the pipes, resulting in a blockage.


  • Hair: This is one of the biggest causes of blocked drains, as it can bind with sticky substances such as grease to form clogs.


  • Mineral buildup: Minerals that get diluted in hard water can build up and result in insoluble masses that easily block the drains. Install a water softener if you have hard water in your area. Otherwise, you will need to remove sediment and descale sediment and build-up on a regular basis.


  • Tree roots: The tiniest leaks or cracks in your underground pipes can draw tree root growth, and once inside the pipes, tree roots grow fast, causing obstruction in water flow and pipe damage.


While it is the landlord’s responsibility to maintain the property by performing preventive measures such as installing a water softener and cleaning tree roots from pipes, it is the tenant’s responsibility to take care of the property by avoiding the above-mentioned causes of blocked drains.


How Do I Prevent Blocked Drains?


Blocked drain prevention is easy when you:


  • Don't flush non-toilet products such as baby wipes and flushable cat litter. Even though cat litter is biodegradable and was designed to be flushable, it can still cause clogs.


  • Don’t dispose of cooking grease in the kitchen sink. Some people think that since cooking grease is not solid, it’s okay to flush it in the kitchen sink. But this is a big no-no because cooking grease can stick to the pipes and build up.


  • Install a drain strainer. One of the most common causes of a clogged drain is small debris of food and waste that get stuck in the pipes. A drain strainer is one of the best solutions to prevent small debris from getting flushed. There are also similar strainers you can place in the shower to prevent hair, dirt, and soap scum from getting flushed into your drain.


Blocked Drains Outside - Who Is Responsible?


When it comes to blocked drains outside, finding out who is responsible will require the expert opinion of an experienced plumber. Though it’s easy to speculate that it’s a result of an issue in your area, the problem might actually fall under local council responsibilities. A plumber can use CCTV technology and water jetting equipment to find out what the ultimate cause is.


All piping and related system structures that offer services to you are the responsibility of your local council. It means that you may be able to get a free repair for water networks so long as the problem is less than a metre inside your property.


Contact a Blocked Drain Plumber


Contact a blocked drain plumber immediately if you experience any of the mentioned problems.


As a family-owned and operated small business, Mr Plumber understands the importance of getting value for your money when getting work done in your house - that is why we’re committed to keeping the costs down by offering competitive rates and not charging a call-out fee. Contact Mr Plumber - no job is too big or too small for us.


Reliable Blocked Drain Plumber


For an on-time response and value for your money, choose Mr Plumber. We are a full-service plumber with over 20 years of experience in all aspects of plumbing.


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