What can I do about my neighbor’s man made drainage ditch that is eroding my property?

Get Legal Help Today

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

What can I do about my neighbor’s man made drainage ditch that is eroding my property?

We purchased our home 1.5 years ago in Ketchikan, AK. There is a man-made drainage ditch that lines the edge of our property with our neighbor. We have a yard that is fenced in. Roughly 1/4 of the property line with the drainage ditch contains part of the fence. The fence is made of wood, about 3.5-4 feet tall and is about 3 feet away from the edge of our property line. When we first moved in we noticed that the ground near the drainage ditch was very soft. It was even beginning to fall into the drainage ditch in a few spots. To curb the issue, we packed the edge of our property line with dirt. That didn’t solve the issue duh it was washed away in no time. So we decided to line our edge of the property with rocks so that the neighbor’s ditch would stop eroding our property line. If it would continue to erode, a section of our fence would cave in. Our neighbor is not happy that we are lining the ditch with rocks and told us to remove them. We have been putting them there to save our property and our fence. She has consistently told us that we must remove the rocks. We don’t know what to do. We talked to a city building inspector and he laughed at the situation. He told us that her ditch is encroaching onto our property and we should be able to line the ditch with rocks. Some of the rocks that line the ditch are partially on her side of the property line. We don’t know what to do. I asked her what she is going to do about the ditch eroding our property and she said ‘Absolutely nothing.’ That doesn’t make the situation any better…. We can’t talk to her about the matter like adults because there is an unfriendly relationship that currently exists.

Asked on April 16, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Alaska

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You can sue the neighbor for nuisance which is an unreasonable interference with the use or enjoyment of your property.
Damages (monetary compensation in your lawsuit) would be an inadequate remedy because of multiplicity of lawsuits as the erosion is continuing.  Damages are also inadequate because land is unique.
When damages are inadequate, an appropriate remedy would be an injunction against your neighbor to stop the erosion of your property. The court will balance the benefits and hardships to the parties in determining whether an injunction should be granted. 
Initially, the court will issue a temporary restraining order which will be in effect until the court determines whether or not a preliminary injunction should be granted.  The final step would be to determine whether a permanent injunction should be granted at trial.
 


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption