Disputes between neighbors over the flow of water are nothing new. The water simply has to go somewhere, especially when there’s a lot of it. Recently, there’s been an increase in water issues caused by homes that have been “flipped.”
When an old home is purchased by an investor, occasionally it is torn down and rebuilt rather than simply remodeled. During a rebuild, the contractor will often build up the grade to make the property more desirable. There might also be a new driveway or walkway installed on the property. The combination of a higher grade and more impervious surface inevitably leads to drainage issues with neighbors.
But what can you do if you’re being flooded by a neighbor’s property? We’ve covered the legal theory of these cases in a previous blog. The short version is that anyone who changes the historical flow of water will be liable for damages caused by the ensuing flooding. In reality, the answer is not usually so simple.
Sure, you certainly would like to be paid for any damage. But what a homeowner really needs is the assurance that this will never happen again. Will a judge really force someone to tear down and rebuild an offending property? Probably not.
In reality, these issues are often resolved by the parties working to find a creative solution to the drainage problem. French drains, dry wells, or even “rain gardens” are some solutions. It may even be more cost-effective to propose to split the cost of this project with your neighbor rather than suing the neighbor. Lawsuits of this kind can be costly and lengthy. The real sticking point occurs when there has already been significant damage caused, or where a simple workaround is not feasible. In those cases, litigation may be the most effective course of action.
The attorneys at Dalton & Tomich, PLC are experienced in all areas of Michigan land use, including water issues. We resolve conflicts with and without litigation. If you are having issues with a neighbor, please do not hesitate to contact us. We would be happy to speak with you.