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J. Warren
J. Warren, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 2211
Experience:  Experience in residential real estate and commercial leases.
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I own and live on the first floor of a five floor condo unit

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I own and live on the first floor of a five floor condo unit in Alexandira, VA. My neighbor on the third floor has repeatedly despite my requests to stop - has been watering her plants from her unit each day to the point that my own porch that is under her's is completely drowned (no exaggeration). I have video recordings to prove that her watering of her potted plants is causing flooding on my porch below and I have had to throw out porch furniture twice due to the damages. I have repeatedly requested her to either curb her watering habits or to stop so as to not cause any further damage. Instead of showing consideration, she has blatantly challenged me to do what I can to make her stop from damaging my porch as she will not do so herself. Given this situation, I have the following questions:
1) Is there a legal way to stop her from damaging my porch and my furniture any further, and making her pay me for all the damages she has caused thusfar? Do I have any legal standing to take her to small claims court (or civil or criminal courts) in Virginia?
2) I have video recordings of her watering habits that cause active flooding on my porch for over the past month after I have had to throw out my second set of porch furniture that was completely damages from these events. However, I have not retained receipts or photographed damaged furniture as evidence of active damages because falsely assumed that she was going to do the neighborly thing and heed to my repeated requests. If I do have legal standing to sue her in court, what kind of evidence would I need?
3) On one of the recordings, she even admits that I have mentioned to her numerous times in the past that she is damaging my porch furniture which I have had to throw out ... would that suffice as evidence?
4) What are the conditions under which this lawsuit can be dismissed?
Submitted: 4 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  J. Warren replied 4 months ago.

Hello and welcome to JustAnswer. My name is ***** ***** I am an attorney who will try my very best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can. Please note: This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site.

I am sorry you are dealing with this situation.

1) Is there a legal way to stop her from damaging my porch and my furniture any further, and making her pay me for all the damages she has caused thusfar? Do I have any legal standing to take her to small claims court (or civil or criminal courts) in Virginia? If you are governed by a condo association you should speak to the board and file a complaint. If not, yes you can take her to court for both damages and seek an injunction. An injunction is a court order issued to the defendant to stop the certain behavior that is causing harm. Small claims could hear the case regarding the damages caused, such as furniture replacement and inability to use patio based on flooding. However, only a Circuit Court can enter an injunction ordering the water to stop. Small claims does not have the power to do so. I have standing to sue in either court or both based on her negligence which is causing you damage. Along with a private nuisance claim for her impeding on your ability to use and enjoy your property.
2) I have video recordings of her watering habits that cause active flooding on my porch for over the past month after I have had to throw out my second set of porch furniture that was completely damages from these events. However, I have not retained receipts or photographed damaged furniture as evidence of active damages because falsely assumed that she was going to do the neighborly thing and heed to my repeated requests. If I do have legal standing to sue her in court, what kind of evidence would I need? It would be to have receipts of furniture and pictures of damage. However, the fact you do not does not mean you can't bring a suit, it likely is harder to prove the you sustained damage. However, video of the water coming into your patio while she waters is helpful to prove her negligence in watering and how much water is accumulated. Small claims is usually determined by who the judge believes with verbal testimony.
3) On one of the recordings, she even admits that I have mentioned to her numerous times in the past that she is damaging my porch furniture which I have had to throw out ... would that suffice as evidence? Yes that is good evidence, that is an admission of liability and that is strong evidence.
4) What are the conditions under which this lawsuit can be dismissed? The law suit would not be dismissed. It could be defended based on the fact that the upstairs owner was not negligent and took proper means to not cause damage and in fact did not. This will be difficult for her to prove as she has admitted to causing damage and you have evidence that water floods into your patio.

Here is a descent outline of small claims procedure: http://www.courts.state.va.us/resources/small_claims_court_procedures.pdf

I hope this helps and clarifies. Please use the SEND or REPLY button to keep chatting, or please RATE when finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating. Kindly rate my answer as one of TOP THREE FACES/STARS and then SUBMIT, as this is how experts get credit for our time. Rating my answer the bottom two faces/stars (or failing to submit the rating) does not give me credit and reflects poorly on me, even if my answer is correct. I work very hard to formulate an informative and honest answer for you; please reciprocate my good faith with a positive rating.

Expert:  J. Warren replied 4 months ago.

Hello again. This is a courtesy check in to see if you needed anything else in regards ***** ***** question because you never responded or rated positively. I am simply touching base. Let me know. Thanks!

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Thank you for the reply. Can you clarify some more details about the private nuisance claim? Is this something that can be claimed in small claims court as well, or does this have to be in district court? Also, how do you determine the dollar value of a private nuisance claim?
Expert:  J. Warren replied 4 months ago.

Private nuisance can be heard in either court. It is difficult to put a monetary damage on it. However, in you case it would be the loss of the furniture and replacement. Often private nuisance claims attempt to put a value on the loss use of the property as well. Such as not being able to go use your patio when the neighbor is watering. There is no perfect formula to figure this amount it is subjective as to the value one puts on the enjoyment of their property.

Expert:  J. Warren replied 3 months ago.

Can I answer any additional follow up questions for you or clarify anything I have written above? If not, can you please press a positive rating above this message box in the ratings section so I will be paid for my time assisting you on this matter? Pressing a positive rating will not cost any additional money - it is simply the trigger used by Just Answer to pay me for my time (pressing the middle star or the fourth or fifth star on the right are all positive rating buttons).

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