Can I sue my neighbor for water damages to my basement?

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Can I sue my neighbor for water damages to my basement?

After the flooding this summer, my basement flooded twice from one side of my house and I had to replace carpet/padding, windows, drywall and the such. This is the first time this has ever happened to my home. After several window reps coming out and the contractor who repaired everything, I was told that the water was coming from my neighbor’s backyard. Over the years, her basement flooded every time it rained until she had her nephew place an extension pipe to her downspout and secured it with a screw. When we had torrential rain showers this summer, of course her basement was dry as a bone but her surface water flooded mines. She now denies everything.

Asked on January 6, 2016 under Real Estate Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

You can only sue her if the pipe is aimed and set-up so as to deliberately discharge onto your property. In that case, she has deliberately or negligently (carelessly) caused damage to your property and could be liable for your repair costs or losses. However, if the pipe doesn't route the water directly at you, but just away from her house, and then vagaries of slope and landscaping take it to you, she is not liable: homeowners are not liable for losses that occur to their neighbors due to the natural elevation, contours, slope, etc. of the land, but rather, the onus would be on you to take some action to protect your property.


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