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Richard Price, Esq
Richard Price, Esq, Attorney
Category: CA Real Estate
Satisfied Customers: 59
Experience:  Attorney at The Law Office of Richard Samuel Price
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Two new homes were built behind me up ll from my property.

Customer Question

Two new homes were built behind me up hill from my property. When it rains the surface water creates a water fall on to and into my property. The owner claims its my problem, because my house is low. It did not do this prior to all the trees and vegetation
being removed. There are dry wells for the house run off, however, I am still getting flooded. Is there any specific law, that identifies clearly that this is not legal for them to do, nor is it my burden. San Mateo County, Ca
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: CA Real Estate
Expert:  Richard Price, Esq replied 1 year ago.

The owner of the uphill property has a duty to control the surface waters to not increase the flow of runoff from their property to your property. It is not "your problem" because you are downhill. It is the uphill homeowner's responsibility to not burden your downhill property. The procedure would be for you to send a demand letter to the uphill neighbor for trespass and nuisance to properly divert water runoff so as not to flood your property. You could even request mediation in your demand letter. Then sue in court if they do not comply.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
oh, i do not want to sue a neighbor (that would make for an awful living situation), is there a specific law or code I can quote, so they can see the law for themselves? I think that is better for now.
Expert:  Richard Price, Esq replied 1 year ago.

Sorry, you're right. When you're an attorney, you tend to see every legal problem as a nail and your one hammer is litigation.

It's not as simple as pointing you to a code section. It is the California Supreme Court Case of Keys v. Romley (1966) 64 C2d 396 that explains the law of surface waters in California (which follows the civil law rule that landowners should not change the course of surface waters and will be held liable for an adjoining landowner's damages when the natural course is changed. In your situation, the upper landowner removed ground cover and trees to increase the flow of water onto your land causing flooding that didn't happen before.

In my experience, the guy who doesn't do the right thing and makes you show him the law, isn't the guy who goes, "Oh, I see. I'm sorry. I'll change my behavior." I've always had to follow up with a demand letter from an attorney to get a neighbor to do the right thing, especially when it's going to cost him money.

Expert:  Richard Price, Esq replied 1 year ago.

You are welcome to ask me more questions, but if you are satisfied with my answer would you please give me a rating so that I can be credited with answering your question? Thank you.