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Liability of Changing Residential Site Drainage

Liability of Changing Residential Site Drainage

Liability of Changing Residential Site Drainage

On your typical 0.25 acre suburban single family housing properties, do any of you have a feel for the standard of care when one homeowner makes a change to the surface water flow in how it might affects a neighboring property? Is this codified or standardized anywhere or is it more of a state law thing? Like if a homeowner installs a big patio or pool in the backyard that changes the surface flow and results in water infiltration into the basement of the adjacent house, how do you think the responsibility falls?

RE: Liability of Changing Residential Site Drainage

the party that diverted the water is responsible

RE: Liability of Changing Residential Site Drainage

On what basis? Standard/code or legal statute? Or are you giving a gut response?

RE: Liability of Changing Residential Site Drainage

My guts call - collect all available information on the regrading, and evidence of the collective damages. Then file complain with the City/Township, also the court. Unless the regrading affects the local drainage plan, I doubt anybody will interfere.

RE: Liability of Changing Residential Site Drainage

every jurisdiction has different Laws, Ordinances, Regulations and statutes, you would need to do some research if you want to find out if it is codified in your jurisdiction. otherwise case law will prevail

for examples:

RE: Liability of Changing Residential Site Drainage

Agree with CVG's comments. This issue is something that the municipality will review during a building code permit review. If it is not in a building code permit process, it is more difficult.

This is a classic example of municipal "complaint engineering". The municipality will call the offender and ask them to remedy the problem.

I had a situation where the neighbor had half a dead tree which was waiting for the wind to drop it on the power lines. Several years prior, the other half of the tree dropped on the power lines and power was out for a week because nobody wanted the hazardous job of cutting down a leaning tree hanging over the power lines.

I called the municipality and requested that they remedy the dead tree situation because I could predict that a future power outage. The municipality said they couldn't force the homeowner to take the tree down. He suggested that I ask the homeowner. The municipality eventually asked the homeowner to take care of the problem.

Municipalities don't like to get involved with squabbles between neighbors.

RE: Liability of Changing Residential Site Drainage

Sn Diego has their "Land Development Manual" referenced under City Codes.

RE: Liability of Changing Residential Site Drainage

Here’s a real live case for you. A local Utility cuts an access road for their pole across private property, but on the Utility’s right of way, so that is ok. But the access road violates City grading requirements, most notably by increased and uncontrolled runoff and erosion from the site crossing adjacent properties. Thus far there is no evidence that a grading permit was ever issued. I am in contact with the City right now and will keep you advised.

RE: Liability of Changing Residential Site Drainage


There are two key factors in your case:

1) The litigator is the City. 2) The violation affects the City's plan, for which the effect could be assessable. The second factor apparently will be argued by experts/lawyers from each side.

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