Who is responsible to fix a crumbling retaining wall if it sits on the boundary of 2 properties?

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Who is responsible to fix a crumbling retaining wall if it sits on the boundary of 2 properties?

My understanding is that the neighbor’s ex put the wall in under 4 ft before I moved in. My building is 3 condos, the neighbor is a single family.

Asked on September 25, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Someone has to own the wall. That is the person who would have to pay to repair it. If the wall was put in by the neighbor the "neighbor's ex" then it should be the neighbor's wall, and the neighbor would have to fix it. If, as it appears, it is the neighbor's wall, the neighbor cannot be forced to fix it--he can decide whether and when to fix it. However, if due to his failure to fix the wall, a person or your property suffers any damage, then the neighbor could potentially be held liable for any such damage or cost.
Note that if the wall was improperly placed on your property, it may be possible to force him to remove and relocate it--speak with a real estate attorney if you believe this may be the case.


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