Who is responsible to fix my retaining wall and repair?

My property is 20 years old and I bought it 3 years ago. Our backyard at the property line slopes down into a gulch which is 30-50 feet deep. It quite a steep slope. So we build a low retaining wall to plant a line of shrubs to help control erosion and for privacy. Recently, the owner of the gulch area started to clear the land to build a house. All the vegetation was cleared. We had a big rain storm and one morning we found a 10 foot section of our retain collapsed caused by the soil on the slope washing away. The neighbor is saying that there was a drainage line from my property the caused the slide. My property has no problems until he stated to build on the lower land area.

Asked on December 10, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Washington

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

The other property owner is probably not liable, unfortunately. An adjacent property owner can generally only be held liable if he/she does something unreasonable, inappropriate, etc. on his/her property, which action damages yours. However, there is nothing unreasonable about a person clearing land to build a house on land they own; therefore, even if his/her actions had a bad effect on your property, he/she was, based on what you write, within his/her rights to do what he/she did, and therefore not liable.


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