If my neighbor removed dirt that holds up our shared wall and it’s now leaning dangerously, who should pay to fix it?

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If my neighbor removed dirt that holds up our shared wall and it’s now leaning dangerously, who should pay to fix it?

My neighbor wants us to share the cost to fix the wall but I believe this would never have been an issue if they never removed that dirt. Given that the wall is now leaning it seems that this was never a city approved construction. I fell they should cover the bill to fix the whole fence due to their negligence and possible illegal construction. How do we go about resolving this since my main fear is someone physically getting hurt. Who can I talk to in order to enforce my neighbor to fix it before someone gets hurt. They threaten to sue but I fell they have no cause.

Asked on December 25, 2011 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Your neighbor may have committed subterranean trespass and if so, he or she has caused damage to this wall. If this is your wall or a joint wall and will or could cause further damage to your home or property, your neighbor is responsible for the damage. What you can do is contact code enforcement and or building and safety in your town. Usually with something like this they will come out immediately and fine the neighbor and threaten further legal action if the neighbor does not repair the matter quickly. Your neighbor can threaten to sue morning, noon and night but the issue becomes whether your neighbor would be successful in a lawsuit. You need to protect yourself and take pictures of the wall now and sift through photos to see if any photos show what your wall looked like before. See if you can take a photo over the fence or wall to show your neighbor was the one digging, not you. Contact the code enforcement to not only have somene dispatched to your property but also inquire if a zoning or planning approval was needed or building permit was needed and if one was pulled.


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