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Irwin Law
Irwin Law, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 6855
Experience:  Lawyer- Broker 30+years - foreclosure, short sale, liens, title attorney.
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Can you please tell us who is legally responsible

Customer Question

Hello,
Can you please tell us who is legally responsible for removing a wall that is in violation of a city code, the neighbor that installed it thinking it was on their property or us the recent buyers of the adjoining property?
Pertinent facts:
* The neighbor built the wall several years ago believing it was on the property line, however it is completely on our Lot. In some cases as much as 8 feet over.
* We purchased the property in Nov 2015, flooded Jan 2016.
* The wall became an issue due to 100% flooding of our property 4-8" of water surrounded our house and was not able to drain quickly due to the neighbors wall.
* The City did an official survey March 2016.
* The wall is built over a city flood drain easement, based on the survey, the city shows the entire easement is on property that belongs to us but they also stated we can not block it by any structure that would prevent drainage to a city drain at the back of property, hence the requirement of the wall removal.
* Before we got the city involved we asked the neighbor to allow us to put drainage holes through the wall to the back drain but they refused claiming it was installed by them.
* The City sent notices to both ourselves and the neighbor saying the wall had to be removed along with copies of the survey and they marked off the easement. The City states if the wall is not removed it will be removed by the city at our expense.
* The neighbor is now saying the wall is on our property, it's our problem.
We just want to know who is legally liable for the wall removal?
Thank you, ***** *****
Submitted: 7 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Irwin Law replied 7 months ago.
Hello Karen. I'm really sorry to hear about this dilemma that you find yourself in. When you bought the property, your survey should have shown that the wall was encroaching. You may have a cause of action against the surveyor for missing that. So, the neighbor who wouldn't let you drill a hole in the wall to prevent flooding your property is now insisting that it's your responsibility to remove the wall. How ironic. You might also want your attorney to look into a lawsuit against the neighbor for trespass and damages since they built the wall on your property without the permission of the owner. The city won't decide the dispute between neighbors and will require whoever owns the property on which the violation has occurred to cure the problem. They will not go after the your neighbor, And if you do nothing the city will do the removal And charge you about four times what it would cost you to do it yourself. I hope the wall construction is not so extensive that you can't find some day laborers to take it down and haul away at a reasonable price. I hope that this information is helpful and that you will enter a positive rating for my assistance.
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
Hi Irwin,
hmmm...
I'm not sure you are understanding the question. We just want to know if the neighbor that installed the wall would be liable for the removal if we took him to small claims or retained a lawyer? If I had a lawyer, I would be asking them. We aren't interested in seeking any kind of damages, we just want to know if we can hold the neighbor that installed the wall liable for the removal. We didn't survey the property the city did. The neighbor may have had the previous owners permission we don't know, we have only been here 6 months, but because it is on a city easement it's still illegal and so their permission or not shouldn't be relevant should it? It comes down to the person who installed it vs. the property owner. Someone is legally liable. If it's us then it's us, if we can recoup the cost to remove the wall then we want to know that prior to removing it.
Thank you, Karen
Expert:  Irwin Law replied 7 months ago.
Hi Karen: let me explain further. You are trying to force the neighbors to actually do the removal, and that can't be done. The neighbors know that the city is going to force you to do it. If, and that is a big if, liability for such removal belongs to them, you would have to sue for damages. That would be the cost of the removal not a mandatory injunction which would require them to remove it. The bot***** *****ne is that the responsibility for the actual removal is going to fall on you. Whether you can recoup the cost of it or not is another question.I will you and