Manitowoc, WI asked in Real Estate Law for Wisconsin

Q: My neighbor is threatening to sue me over water drainage issues that I believe are self-inflicted. Should I worry?

neighbor purchased a new spec home that was next to an empty lot in 2016. I purchased the empty lot and began construction on my home before his final-grade was done. I found it odd that his house had exposed basement windows below grade, since our lots were both very flat pre-build, but didn’t think much of it. After my house was framed, he began significant landscaping changes. There used to be slopes from his house (his house is ~2’ higher) that met at our property line and channeled water, that he eliminated with large outcropping boulders, and he removed a lot of dirt between our houses; all to “protect” his exposed basement windows. Now, I have an extreme slope and my lot is no longer flat across. He’s been calling everyone and complaining that it is my responsibility to build a retaining wall, and that no water from my property better come onto his. However, a simple look at our site plan show he is 2-4’ too low along the property line, which was confirmed with laser measures.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Brian R. Zimmerman
Brian R. Zimmerman
  • Milwaukee, WI
  • Licensed in Wisconsin

A: Responsibility for the run-off will depend upon a lot of factors. Understanding your legal rights and responsibilities in this situation before it escalates further would most likely save you time, money and aggravation. A real estate lawyer will be able to advise you further.

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