If I just purchased a new construction home in a new subdivision and debris from my neighbor’s yard keeps falling down into mine, what are my rights?

My house is on a slope, and my backyard neighbor sits above me. Her home is new as well, and she made the decision not to landscape her backyard, which means there are tons and tons of loose dirt and rocks in the backyard. As it rains, much of the sediment washes under the fence into my yard. After a few weeks of heavy rain, we had to haul a few hundred points of sand and sort out of my yard that originated in her yard. She refuses to fix the problem by landscaping/installing a drainage system, and the dirt continues to build in my yard. If I hire a landscaper to clean up the mess again and mitigate the drainage issue, do I have a civil case to recoup my money?

Asked on November 7, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Colorado

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

No, you would most likely not have a case. You can only sue a neighbor for a "nuisance" (the legal term) like run off if it's because of something improper she affirmatively did--such as if she had deliberately landscaped or graded her property to divert water from her yard to yours. But that is not what is happening, based on what you write; rather, she has chosen to not landscape, which is her right--there is no law forcing a property owner to landscape. There is also no law forcing a property owner to put in a drainage system for the benefit of neighbors. You may instead need to put in your own system (drainage system; grading; retaining wall; etc.) to protect yourself from the natural and inevitable (i.e. not legally actionable) consequences of living downslope.


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