What to do if I own 26 acres of land and my neighbor has constructed a french drain system around his home and has diverted the water onto my property?

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What to do if I own 26 acres of land and my neighbor has constructed a french drain system around his home and has diverted the water onto my property?

The pipe itself is on my property at least 30 feet. The water does no damage to the dwelling on my property, but it drains a continuous flow of water into a wooded section of my land which has been declared a wetland, and it alters the landscape of such wetland. Do I have the right to remove such piping from my land? Do I have the right to cap off the pipe at my property line? The neighbor owns 10 acres of land adjoining to my land and has many other options for diverting his water issues instead of putting them onto my property.

Asked on October 2, 2012 under Real Estate Law, New York

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You have a couple of different options-- and you can use a "progressive discipline" approach.  The first is to let your neighbor know verbally and in writing that you are not consenting to him diverting water to your property.  In the same notice, give him a reasonable time frame to change his drainage system.  If he still refuses, then you have two sets of options.  The first is self help-- where you can potentially remove the piping that is on your land. You have the right to remove unwanted things from your property.  Capping is not the wisest choice because it could cause reverse damage to his property-- which create liability issues for yourself.  Instead of removing the property, you could also invoke legal options and file a suit for "damage to property" and injunctive relief to bar him from using your property as his personal drainage site.  This is probably a better option because there is no risk for you to be countersued for damaging someone else's property.  You can also ask, as part of your damages, that he be required to reimburse you for attorneys fees.   You don't mention how long this has been going on, but generally you have three years in which to file a suit for this type of claim in New York.


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