Can I hold a neighbor legally responsible for damage to my foundation due to chronic water seepage?

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Can I hold a neighbor legally responsible for damage to my foundation due to chronic water seepage?

My neighbors put in an Inground pool over 10 years ago they used the dirt from the
dig to higher their property 6-8 ‘ So Now I am trying to sell property but the back of
the house has damage to the foundation due to chronic water seepage the
foundation is buckling. Now potential buyers backed out due to structural damage. I
believe their water has been draining into our yard and running down the wall and
over years has created this problem

Asked on July 11, 2016 under Real Estate Law, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

IF you can show 1) that the water seepage from the neighbor is causing your damage and 2) that it was unreasonable for them to elevator their property the way they did (i.e. that it was inappropriate for the area and/or that a reasonable homeowner would not do this), you may be able to hold them liable for your damage--but note that you have to be able to show both things. If other properties in the area are higher than your neighbors, this could be very hard to show this (i.e. if other homeowners have elevated properties, it is likely not unreasonable or inappropriate); at a minimum, to prove it, you will definitely need an expert report from and the testimony of a landscape architect and/or structural engineer, demonstrating both causality and the unreasonableness or inappropriateness of the elevation. Since such experts do not often work cheap, and since you would, as practical matter, need an attorney to help you present this case (it's much more complex than, for example, the typical small claims case), the case could be quite expensive; at the same time, it is not guaranteed that you'd win (never trust any lawyer who says that winning is certain--no one can control or absolutely predict what a court wlll do), which means that you could spend a considerable amount of money and time and not win. Consult with an attorney and consider carefully whether you want to engage in such a lawsuit before filing it.


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