Neighbor elevated his land, now my house floods

Discussion in 'Law & Justice' started by Libertarianforlife, May 28, 2014.

  1. Libertarianforlife

    Libertarianforlife Active Member

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    My neighbor brought in a ton of dirt to put his new house up higher because our land is low back where we live. That's all fine and dandy, except he's now changed the contour of the land and it's causing my house to flood. My neighbor told me my house has NEVER flooded when I bought it back in 2011, and by early 2012, a few months after he brought in all this dirt, my house flooded. It flooded again about 7 months later. This NEVER happened in the 40 years prior to him changing the land contour. What happened was the water used to drain out of my yard, through the empty field (that is now his yard) and into a ditch. Well, now the water has nowhere to go so it backs up into my yard and floods my yard and house. I have a ditch on the other side of my property, but it's lower than the other ditch so it fills up first and does no good at draining my land once it fills up.

    Is there anything I can do? I know that while you have a right to do what you want on your land, you can't do things like plug natural drainage ditches, etc. Anyone know what recourse I have?
     
  2. raytri

    raytri Well-Known Member

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    #1, document the cause of the flooding so you're sure what you're talking about, with evidence to support your explanation.

    #2, talk to the neighbor, explain the problem, and see if he's willing to work with you to address it.

    If he doesn't believe he's causing the problem or refuses to help, you're then left with two options:

    #1, do your own landscaping to manage the runoff and keep it away from your house;

    #2, As long as you're not one of those Libertarians that oppose zoning laws, you can check to see if he needed/got a permit to raise his house. Usually such permits require a runoff plan to avoid flooding the neighbors. If he didn't get a permit or didn't follow the runoff plan, he could be forced to fix the problem.

    Of course, that might annoy your neighbor. And you might have to hire somebody to prove that your house is flooding because of his improvements. You'll have to decide if those possible downsides are worth it.
     
  3. everyman2013

    everyman2013 New Member

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    1-If you have a zoning administrator or building department, check with them re: ordinances regarding construction near/on property line(s).

    2- You might also check with your state Department of Natural Resources (or whatever designation they use) re: changing the land contour.

    3- Last resort-FEMA, cause it looks like he might have created a flood plain that shouldn't be there, or at least increasing the danger if you already live in one.

    Whatever you do, good luck, and post any positive results you get.
    Enjoy!
     
  4. wyly

    wyly Well-Known Member

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    Good advice from other posters, many regions have regulations regarding runoff and changing drainage...I for example am not allowed to drain water in the direction of my neighbours property...my brother is contractor like me he solved a similar problem like this using a old techniwue used by the romans....he dug a ditch at an diagonally across the direction of water flow lined it with landscaping filter fabric filled it with coarse gravel then covered everything with soil, runoff followed the gravel chanel around the house...
     
  5. Empress

    Empress Well-Known Member

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    Wow, what kind of an idiot would do something like that without creating drainage for it? He had no business doing that. Did he even get a permit to do so? Surely zoning officials would have caught that one?
     
  6. Aleksander Ulyanov

    Aleksander Ulyanov Well-Known Member

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    You're both low, so the problem is the water, not necessarily your neighbor. You only have the word of your other neighbor that your house never flooded and it might be there's just been more rain lately. Proving your allegations could very well involve expensive experts and unless there is a very clear zoning violation your neighbor might still have no liability. I'd consider redoing my own drainage as that directly addresses the problem
     
  7. waltky

    waltky Well-Known Member

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    Searching for Solutions as Seas Rise, Floods Increase...
    :confusion:
    Searching for Solutions as Floods Increase and Seas Rise
    December 14, 2016 - Rising sea levels are causing more frequent flooding in some U.S. coastal communities from Florida to New York. The surge is hurting home sales, sparking soaring insurance rates, and spawning an industry aimed at limiting damage and costs.
     
  8. Maximatic

    Maximatic Well-Known Member

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    I see it's been a while but, if you were to sue, you'd probably win. It depends on where you live, but most property law is just codified common law which evolved by dispute resolution which assumed homesteading rights. By having your house there not being flooded before he made that change, you(or whoever put the house there) homesteaded that condition of the lot. If the change he made to his property is the cause of the flooding on your property, he is liable and would be obligated to stop the flooding.
     
  9. Libertarianforlife

    Libertarianforlife Active Member

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    This problem still hasn't gone away. Since I made this thread we had a lot of rain one day and my house came to within a half inch of getting water in it again. With my neighbor turtle-backing his property mine stays wet now. If I could I'd elevate my house, but being a slab brick home, that's not easy or cheap.
     
  10. JakeJ

    JakeJ Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Hire a lawyer. It is actionable.
     
  11. Maximatic

    Maximatic Well-Known Member

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    It sounds like it would be cheaper to talk to a lawyer. Maybe it could be fixed with just some grading work. If you researched the law where you live, showed it to your neighbor, and asked him if he would please redirect the water so you don't have to bother getting a judgment against him...
     
  12. NMNeil

    NMNeil Well-Known Member

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    Go to your local planning and zoning department and get a copy of your neighbors original application to build the house, it should be a public record, and see if building up the land was part of the plan and if flood prevention was required.
    Your rules may be different but here in New Mexico any proposed construction anyone within 100 feet has to be mailed a notice of the planning application, so if it's true for your area see if the notice was sent.
     
  13. Deckel

    Deckel Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    You would probably be just SOL in my state since the water is not coming from his property. It is coming from your property. You would need to install a catch basin and pipe it out to the street or into a ditch. I have a lot of surface water that crosses my property in heavy rains, including the up-slope house next door that just routed all its gutters onto my land after their drains clogged. I just raised the ground level next to the foundation and sloped it out into the open yard and let it go. On the side of the neighboring house, it pushes their water back toward their basement door but screw em. If they are not willing to invest in a shovel, $100 in corrugated pipe and spend 4 hours working, let them live with the mold. I just took some pictures during the real heavy rain of the river so if they ever try to sue me I can show I am not the problem.
     
  14. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member

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    I do find this more than a little bit ironic, considering you posted a thread about this and your profile name is "Libertarian for life".

    Yes, when houses are located close together, the actions one person takes on their property can affect others.

    On the other extreme, you have the EPA coming in and saying any land that floods during any part of the year is subject to federal regulation.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2018
  15. modernpaladin

    modernpaladin Well-Known Member

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    If you're handy, you can probably figure out a way to divert/drain the water for cheaper than a lawyer can make your neighbor fix it. And perhaps your neighbor would be willing to help you figure it out, as that would be cheaper than hiring a lawyer of his own.

    Just don't present it in those terms if you intend to have a friendly relationship with your neighbor :)
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2018
    Eretria likes this.
  16. Empress

    Empress Well-Known Member

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    Yeah sue your neighbor. He doesn't have a right to do something on his land that is flooding your house. He needs to remove those landscaping changes and pay for your damages.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2018

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