Who's responsible for clean drains?

I have this phorid fly problem in my flat in this old house that’s been converted into 3 flats. Phorid flies are to be found in my kitchen, lounge and hallway since September. I’ve also seen them downstairs next to the door of the flat there (the flat below me).

This pest controller guy visited my flat yesterday and said he reckoned it’s most likely the overflow pipe in the kitchen sink all gunked up. But he also suggested the problem might originate from the flat underneath. Or that cleaning the pipes might not work and fumigation might be necessary. But that initially a plumber would come round and change the waste trap section or whatever underneath the kitchen sink.

OK, the property management working for the landlord just sent me an email where she states: " The pest controller has advised me that the flies have been living and breeding in the waste trap section of your sink due to the debris that have accumulated in there". She goes on to say that the cleanliness of the drains is my responsibility and that I (the tenant) will be expected to pay the invoice for any works undertaken. She suggested I might sort the problem out myself by putting bleach down the sink and wastepipe. Well, I’ve put huge amounts of bleach down the sinks and overflow thingies (is that a waste pipe?) in the past 3 months and that didn’t do anything!

The question I would like to ask is whether tenants are obliged to have to occasionally dissemble the pipes below the sink and clean them? If so, then so be it. However, I’m a bit concerned that since it hasn’t been definitely established that it is these pipes, it could be money down the drain (so to speak) if in fact the problem resides elsewhere. (The pest controller guy said to me that he reckoned waste trap section was the most likely source, not that it definitely was).

A bit more info. My flat suffers from damp problems that the property management and landlord are aware of and have been sent photos of, but haven’t done anything about. Does this change anything?

Any advice would be much appreciated.

Unless you can show that the drains were blocked before you rented the place then the landlord may be correct. Unblocking drains is normally a tenant responsibility. It can normally be done by buying and using a drain cleaner liquid from the supermarket. More persistent problems may need an acid cleaner such as One-Shot or rodding with a flexible tube. In the unlikely event that it does require the removal of pipes then that is something the landlord would have to do.

If you think this is caused by the flat below then try to persuade them to deal with it or go halves.

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OK, thanks for that. I can’t be certain of the source. But I don’t want to pay something like £200? only to find out that the problem comes from somewhere else like the downstairs flat (have knocked on his door a few times, and he appears to be in by the lights, but he never answers).

Right, my best course of action at the moment to save me the cost of a plumber is to use a plunger, drain cleaners and flexible tube to see if that fixes the problem (just ordered all them from amazon). If it doesn’t fix it then get back on to the property management?

My plumber also suggested to pour the hot water from boiling kettle to drain and use plunger.
Maintaining the drains is tenants responsibility.

It’s good idea to do once a week to keep the sinks and bathroom drains because of grease and debris is common cause of the smell and blockage.

flies breeding in a wet sink pipe?

Yes, I wondered about that too.

Fruit flies may breed and develop in drains because of rotten food left the sinks and waste pipes.

Also sometimes some tenants have very bad had habits leaving dirty dishes/pans in sinks overnight and even for a few days.


Hello, here’s an update. The tenant that lives below me had been storing full bin bags in his flat for weeks on end (presumably must have had decomposing food in). He chucked out 8-10 bin bags all at once! He even put a bin bag in my recycle bin. Even though it was only cardboard in that particular bag, I saw a few of those flies crawling over it.

Anyway, I still have a fly problem, but am hoping he’s cleaned his flat sufficiently that they’ll disappear over the next couple of weeks or so. Merely throwing the bin bags out hasn’t resolved the problem though.

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If the tenant is not receptive to a request from you to not hoard rubbish then you might want to have a word with Environmental Health and his landlord as this problem could recur

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Get photos and tell the landlord. They may be a hoarder and there could be considerably worsethan flies.

Honestly since you’re having damp issues as well you may want to cut your losses and find a new place if your lease is up soon. Otherwise I’d report the conditions.

I would also ask the landlord to clarify something:

If it’s determined your pipe was not the source of the problem, will the landlord reimburse you for the cost of the unnecessary plumbing work you did on the landlord’s advice?

The more I think about this, the less happy I am. I’m not in contact with the landlord at all, only the property management and specifically this one young woman who deal with “repairs”. She visited both of our flats yesterday. She came round mine first and said my flat was nice and clean. She asked me what I would recommend be done. I said to get a pest controller in to examine his flat (preferably one with expertise in phorid flies) and basically go by his recommendations.

Later on she visited his flat, then emailed me saying there’s hardly any flies in his flat (she spotted one live in my flat)and that the flies seem to be disappearing.

But, as I told her when she came round my flat, the number of flies I’m seeing are somewhat higher than the number I was seeing about a month ago. I was maybe only seeing around 5 in a day at that time even though searching for them. Now, I maybe see around 15-20 in a day if I keep searching at the windows.

Having said that, maybe any cleaning he’s done over the past few days might pay dividends, but I have a feeling that these flies won’t go away unless more decisive action is taken. I think a pest controller needs to pay a visit! There’s already been one around my flat before it was discovered about the below tenant using his flat as a tip.

Incidentally, I did contact the council before the issue with the other tenant was discovered, and she advised to put bleach down my sinks! I contacted her again 4 days ago to update her on the situation, but no response. Who specifically should I contact for environmental health?

A new place would be a good idea. Unfortunately, I am currently receiving some universal credit, which makes it very difficult to get somewhere else. Maybe come off UC for a couple of months, get a flat, then go back on it? I don’t know.

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dont come off UC. How will you live ?,Then you will show NO income to another landlord.,dont panic. Dont be rash. the landlord could write to all the tenants reminding them rubbish has to be put out EVERY week and not be allowed to accumalate

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OK, never thought about them wanting to see proof of income. What about if I got a property from the same property management? Would the process be easier? Had this flat for past 5.5 years, all my rent payments have been on time, passed every 6 monthly flat inspection, so got an exemplary record.

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that is a good idea You could ask

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Incidentally, the flat inspections have been put on hold for the past year due to the virus. That’ll be why the flat below got so bad.

some tenants are not organised Their flat must smell bad !

Would agree with you that a pest controller needs to be bought in as just because he has thrown out the bin bags of rubbish can’t imagine he would have cleaned the place to a good standard. Liquid from the rubbish has lmore than likely eaked into the flooring by now. Don’t think it’s a case of just throwing out the bags as the agent is assuming.
There will be a Pest Controller at the council but whether or not they deal with phorid flies I don’t know. However, there will be a Housing Officer who can order the landlord to get a pest controller in.
At our Council if a tenant was on benefits pest control was free so it might be worth making a call yourself.
Meanwhile, I would put bleach and a kettle of boiling water down all drains very regularly. Just better than nothing whilst you go through the channels.
Terrible they are still messing about like this even after witnessing all the rubbish in the flat below.


Do you have a way to contact the landlord directly? Ideally email or phone number? Check the lease and see if you have the landlord’s address. You can request it formally from the letting agent.

yeah cases like these the landlord should be responsible but I had to figure it out on my own

I had a situation like this when my landlord was just such an irresponsible pig that he just didn’t even clean the apartment before I moved in. I was supposed to move in a clean place and I came in and there was grease and grime everywhere. I was shocked and actually wanted to cancel the lease then and there, but it was a great place location-wise and I had no idea where I would find something similar.
I ended up calling a professional cleaning crew that cleaned the place for me. I googled End of Tenancy Cleaning Near Me and honestly called probably the second company on the list. I was actually pleasantly surprised with the way they worked since they cleaned everything fast and efficient and it didn’t cost me as much as I feared. I still sued my landlord for it and he payed me back but I am still glad I found out about them. Anyways I hope you managed to resolve all your problems