What to do about rot to my townhouse caused by my neighbor’s downspout?

My neighbor’s downspout is attached to my wall and the water drained inside my exterior wall. I found this out when replacing all the exterior trim. Under the siding it’s all rotted out. Since it was under the siding, we didn’t notice the damage. The only downspout on this narrow wall of mine is her downspout. The builder did this 25 years ago. Her unit is under contract and her realtor said that it’s my problem and won’t talk to me. This is a problem caused by the run off from her roof. Her side needs to be fixed as this will be an ongoing problem.

Asked on July 3, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You most likely have no recourse: your neighbor would only be liable if both the following were true:
1) The downspout is not just for her roof, but she actually owns or controls it, so she is the one who could fix, correct, move, etc. it if necessary. If she could not control the downspout, she is not liable for any damage done by it.
2) She had knowledge of the damage that was being done, since without knowing there was a problem, there would be no reason for her to take action--and no liability for not doing so.


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