Q: I live in Maryland and have a cement alley that is not maintained by the city. Water leaks into my house; Can I sue?
I have water leaking into my city basement home. I have done numerous repairs and attempts to lead the water away from my home but realize that I cannot control this without the city properly maintaining their alley. The cement alley has numerous cracks throughout and has an old drainage pipe that is broken and no longer works. All storm water and sump pumps from the surrounding homes lead to my home and get into the basement. I have asked for help over the years and the city did replace a 4 foot by 4-foot cement pad, years ago, but the problem has returned. The cement pad has cracks again and the entire alley needs to be maintained to avoid water coming into my home. I have asked for help numerous times but have been denied. This has led to me delaying renting my home and now, I am unable to rent the property after May 1st, 2020. I have and will be losing a lot of income and the city will not help me. I need to know my legal rights and what I can do, thank you.
A: You need to start with a title search to determine whether the alley is owned by the city or whether the city merely has an easement to it. You then need to determine who has the duty to maintain, and whether you have the right to make the repair yourself. If the responsibility belongs to the city, and it's failure to maintain is creating a nuisance on your property, you may have a cause of action, but skillful negotiation using a lawyer will likely be helpful.
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