Grand Haven, MI asked in Real Estate Law for Michigan

Q: If my neighbor's yard drain fails and causes flooding on our property (& basement) are they liable for damages?

We really want them to (reasonably) fix the water issue so it doesn't happen again. They are not appearing to be cooperative. What rights do we have?

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2 Lawyer Answers
Kenneth V Zichi
Kenneth V Zichi
Answered
  • Howell, MI
  • Licensed in Michigan

A: Hard to say without specifics but if they modified the natural flow and your land flooded they may be liable for damages. The trick here is was the DRAIN modifying the flow or did the BACKUP cause it.

You’d have a pretty significant burden of proof and that litigation won’t be cheap. A BETTER approach is to work with the neighbor — perhaps an explanation of what you need to do to alleviate the problem and how that will impact them will go a long way toward getting them to fix the drain? Maybe kick in some financial incentive? It would probably bd cheaper than litigation in the long run!

Seek local legal advice before discussing ANYTHING however as there may be a third option we’re not seeing from this brief description. And it is hard to ‘retreat’ from either a threat it a promise so know your real options before going too far!

— this is offered for information only and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Seek local legal help if you still have questions.

David Soble
David Soble
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Farmington Hills, MI
  • Licensed in Michigan

A: Depending upon the amount of damages claimed and the evidence the damages resulted from your neighbor's defective drain, litigation may be your only alternative to seek redress - if your neighbor fails to acknowledge or cooperate with resolving the matter. Sometimes just a filing of a suit may get the other party to cooperate or settle the matter. It is cheaper and more preferable to lengthy litigation. Seek the advise of a competent real estate attorney.

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