What to do if a homeowner can’t afford to fix a broken sewer line?

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What to do if a homeowner can’t afford to fix a broken sewer line?

My township says that my sewer line (curb trap) disconnected from the main sewer line. They say it is my responsibility and that I must spend the thousands needed to get a contractor to correct the problem on my own or face endless citations and court appearances. What is my obligation? And what is my legal recourse if I cannot afford this?

Asked on May 3, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, you don't really have any good options in a situation like the one you describe. Typically, maintaining the line you describe is the homeowner's responsibility, but at the same time, local ordinance(s) usually require the homeowner to pay for its upkeep (i.e. it's not like your backyard fence, which is your responsibility but which you can't be forced to spend money on). So you can face fines, citations, etc. for not maintaining this line. It's like your property taxes: even if you can't afford them, you have to pay them, and will face liability if you do not. You may need to look into borrowing, such as from a home equity loan or line, to pay for the repair.


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