Disputes with water flowing from adjoining properties
Council provides roads and drainage systems to collect and convey stormwater to creeks and rivers, and it also maintains the stormwater mains owned by Council on private property.
Council is responsible for the maintenance and repair of open earth (table) drains in areas where underground drainage isn't provided. Maintenance enquiries regarding open drains should be referred to Council's Customer Service Team on 1300 BCOAST (226 278) or (03) 5671 2211, or by emailing email@example.com.
Council may direct a property owner to connect to Council’s stormwater drainage system or other legal point of discharge, if available and practical to do so.
The Victorian Water Act 1989 makes provision for the control of stormwater and Council may issue property owners with a written notice if they are in breach of this Act.
All property owners have a legal obligations to capture, collect and dispose of stormwater from all hard surfaces, through underground pipes to the Council nominated Legal Point of Discharge/Connection so as not cause a nuisance to adjoining property owners.
In general, your neighbour is responsible for controlling stormwater run-off from their property. Water flowing from hard surfaces, such as paving or roofing, should be collected and discharged in an approved manner. Your neighbour is not responsible for controlling stormwater run-off from natural surfaces, such as grassed or treed areas. Any excess stormwater water caused due to significant landscaping works must also be controlled.
Problems with overland stormwater flow between neighbouring properties are generally a civil matter to be resolved between the respective owners and Council generally has no legislative powers to intervene. The type of action you should take depends on the cause of the stormwater.
Common stormwater issues are identified below.
If you construct a driveway on public land, you must ensure that drainage along the road is not disrupted. The land owner is responsible for all damage caused to driveways from local flooding. You may also be required to apply for a Road Occupation Permit.
If your neighbour has recently erected a small shed causing water to flow onto your property, this is a civil matter. Council can't control how your neighbour builds structures of this size as they do not require a building permit. You should talk to your neighbour first and try to reach a mutually suitable solution. If this doesn't work, you can contact the Dispute Settlement Centre on 1300 372 888 for a non-legal mediation service, or take legal action through a solicitor. Liability arising out of the flow of water is an offence under the Water Act Section 16.
If your neighbour has recently completed landscaping, or installed new paved or concreted areas that have redirected or caused water to flow onto your property, this is a civil matter. Council can't control how your neighbour landscapes or paves their property, as these activities don't require Council permits or approval. You should try to discuss the matter with your neighbour first to reach a mutually suitable solution. If this doesn't work, you can contact the Dispute Settlement Centre on 1300 372 888 for a non-legal mediation service, or take legal action through a solicitor. Liability arising out of the flow of water is an offence under the Water Act Section 16.
If the flow is coming from a property under development, your concerns should be directed to the Building Surveyor assessing the development as silt and stormwater control is a condition on all building permits issued.
Builders should put in place temporary measures to prevent surface water flooding other properties when a building is under construction. Roofs without guttering or downpipes connected are the usual cause. If the builder has not put in place suitable measures to prevent flooding, you will need to take your own legal action.
The contact details of the building surveyor are on the sign at the front of the site, alternatively you may contact Council's Building Department by calling 1300 BCOAST (226 278) or (03) 5671 2211
If your neighbour's downpipes or guttering are damaged or missing (not blocked), or if your neighbour has failed to connect the overflow of a rainwater tank to their underground stormwater system, you can report this to Council's Building Department. Notwithstanding the above, we recommend trying to talk to your neighbour first to make them aware of the issue. You may find this leads to a quicker and more amicable resolution to the drainage issue.
Natural Overland Flow is water that flows across properties before any excavation, development or building on the land has taken place.
An upstream property owner cannot be held liable merely because the surface and seepage water flows naturally from the land onto the lower land of a neighbour.
The upstream owner may be liable if the water is made to flow in a more concentrated form than would occur naturally. Runoff should be directed to the street or to an internal drainage system if provided.
Groundwater and groundwater seepage are considered natural occurrences and the property owner is responsible for making provisions to manage
this water e.g. by installing seepage drains. Where sloping blocks have been excavated to obtain a flat yard or building site, seepage drains should be constructed to redirect water to a stormwater drainage system.
Concentrated overland flow is water that flows from hardstand (hard surfaced) areas, such as driveways, paths, paved areas, landscaped areas roofs, drains from roofs, open drains and cut-off drains.
Owners must consider the consequences of water run-off when constructing hardstand areas which may impact on the property below and cause damage to the land or buildings on the land.
You may experience drainage problems when stormwater runs off public land or roadways and forms ponds or flows through your property. All of these enquiries should be directed to our Customer Service Team on 1300 BCOAST (226 278) or (03) 5671 2211.
Who do I contact for help?
For more information about drainage and stormwater please contact us.
We can also provide the details of the Registered Building Surveyor that is responsible for the issuing of building permits and ensuring works comply with all relevant building regulations.
The Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria (DSCV) was established in 1987 and is part of the Victorian Department of Justice & Community Safety, and provides free dispute resolution services to all Victorians.
This service can help you resolve a dispute without having to resort to taking legal action.
As of 2022, the DSCV has temporarily closed its
general service to focus on assisting renters and rental providers to
resolve disputes listed for consideration by VCAT.
However, general information
on resolving neighbourhood disputes and ways to contact the DSCV is available on their website.
As an independent statutory authority, Victoria Legal Aid is available to provide help to people with legal problems by offering legal representation, information, advice and education.
You can contact Victoria Legal Aid by using their online help chat, making an appointment at one of their offices or calling on 1300 792 387.
Please visit their website for more information.