• 1100 Koelle Boulevard, Secaucus, NJ 07094
  • 201.330.2089

Property Owner’s Responsibility for Wastewater Infrastructure Maintenance & Repairs

It is important to understand what’s underneath your property and where your responsibility lies. As a property owner there are two key items to be aware of. The property sewer lateral line and sewer inspections. These are critical items property owners don’t think about until it’s too late.

When considering the lateral sewer pipes connected to your property and what the property owner is responsible for, the lateral is the part of the property’s sewer line that runs from the property to the town main sewer line in the street. The property owner is responsible for all repairs to this lateral. Any repairs that connect to the main sewer in the street would also be the responsibility of the property owner.

Owners’, renter’s, buyers, and agents sometimes assume that any problems passed the property line for lateral sewer pipe will be repaired by the town. That is not the case. It is the property owner’s responsibility for any repairs.

It’s common to hear that property owners don’t know the state of their pipes or the property damage from sewer back-ups that can result in very expensive repairs. It’s important to understand that this damage is generally not covered by a property owner’s insurance policy. Another type of damage to the wastewater infrastructure that is not covered by property owner’s insurance: tree roots invading the sewer line and debris that is not intended to be discharged to the system {wipes, rags, grease, etc.}

There are some properties more prone to broken sewer lines and they include older properties, properties that have slow drains, properties with settlement issues, properties with trees that have deep, aggressive roots, properties where there is already a history of sewer issues, properties with clay tile or cast-iron sewer lines, and properties that have trees over or near the sewer lines. If your property falls into one of these categories, it’s inherently important to pay attention to the pipes underneath your property and think about getting a licensed professional to inspect the pipes. Even if there aren’t any visible issues or problems, there could be something lying underneath that will wreak havoc sooner or later.

Additionally, if a property owner calls in a plumber to inspect and/or clean the house lateral, oftentimes that person will indicate that the problem lies in the street. To avoid possible situations between a property owner and a contracted individual, a call should be made to the Authority to have the main sewer in the street checked for a back-up, prior to calling in a professional. If there is no backup in the main, responsibility falls on the owner/contractor to clear the back-up or make necessary repairs.