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Questions about Drainage Laws

What is a drainage ditch?

A ditch is a type of small to moderate indention in the ground created to channel water. A drainage ditch is used to drain water from low lying areas and is normally found along side roadways or fields or is found in further away places to help irrigate crops. Drainage ditches are typically found near farmland that requires the drainage of water. Drainage ditches that are found roadside can cause driver issues in bad weather.

Should a person direct their issues with a drainage ditch with the HOA of a subdivision if the drainage ditch drains into their back yard?

The person should contact the county first since the roads in most places are owned and maintained by the county. If the HOA (Home Owners Association) owns/maintains the roadways then the person would go to the HOA and tell them of the issues with the drainage ditch. If the county owns the road the person can sue the owner of the property whom the drainage ditch drains from to seek the remedy of the issue and if it is the HOA that is responsible, then the person can sue the HOA for a nuisance and have them pay damages or to fix the issue.

If two homeowners use a concrete drainage ditch, can the drainage ditch be removed by the property owner and where can a person find out if there is an owned easement?

If the drainage ditch is on an easement, then it cannot be removed without the permission of the property owner’s that has benefit of the easement. To find out who owns the easement, the person can go to the county recorder of deeds and find out who owns the easement and who needs to give permission for the drainage ditch to be removed.

If a person has an issue with a building draining water onto the person’s property causing damage in the person’s home, what should the person do to get the drainage issue resolved and damages taken care of?

The person would need to seek an engineering study to be done to find out where the drainage water is coming from. If the person can prove that the water is coming from the building, then he/she can seek damages and repair costs from the building owners to fix the issues caused by the drainage issues. The person can also sue for any negligence that is involved for any injuries that happen due to the water drainage.

If there is question as to who owns a property or easement that a drainage ditch is located on, can anyone do anything to the drainage ditch?

Someone has to own the property and if the property owner can be found, then it comes into questions as to who owns the easement. The person who owns the easement is the only person who can make repairs, or be responsible for the damages caused by the drainage on the easement. If the property owner also owns the easement then the property owner is the one whom is responsible for the upkeep and the issues with the drainage.

Water drainage is very important to land owners and residents. When there are questions regarding the drainage laws or how to deal with an issue regarding drainage, then consulting an Expert can help resolve any issues regarding drainage.

Ask a Real Estate Lawyer

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Tina, Lawyer
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Recent Drainage Questions

  • The Board of the homeowner association in which I live has

    The Board of the homeowner association in which I live has decided to sell a building which is a common element of the association. The Association's attorney drew up an agreement and the Board has set up a tent in the parking lot to get people to sign the vote (agreement to sell the building) and have their signature notarized. This has been going on for weeks. The board and the management company has been robo-calling homeowners, sending letters, emails, and even calling people at work to get them to sign the agreement.
    Many homeowners do not realize they have a choice, the board has set the done that owners must sign and any one who hasn't is contacted and reminded they haven't signed yet. As the weeks go by, the Board is approaching their 80% goal.
    Here's the question: Pennsylvania Title 68, § 5318. Conveyance or encumbrance of common facilities. states in paragraph (b) that: "The agreement must specify a date after which the agreement will be void unless recorded before that date. The agreement and all ratifications shall be recorded in every county in which a portion of the planned community is situated and is effective only upon recording."
    The agreement has no such date in it; the Board can just keep trying and trying until they get the 80%. Is putting an due date mandatory? If they reach their goal, can they file there agreements as valid? How would someone protest their actions such that the lawyer could be shown to be acting in an unethical fashion (assuming a date is mandatory)?
  • The Homeowner Association in which I live recently sent out

    The Homeowner Association in which I live recently sent out a letter stating the following:
    "This Information is the property of the XXXXXXXXXX Association ("Association"). No portion of this document may be duplicated, redistributed, or manipulated in any form, without the written permission of the Association, through its governing board and any copies hereby must be provided by it only. By accepting this copy, you agree to abide by the Association's privacy"
    The letter concerns the condition of our townhomes' stucco siding which is failing and an engineering firm has now stated that the siding was defective from the beginning, leaking water into homes. While homeowners own their homes, the Association is responsible for the stucco maintenance. The board has known about these issues for years but have pretended they don't officially "know" as they are not experts. Homeowners pressured them into having a engineering study done and now it is as people suspected all along.
    The Board does not want the news to get out as they explain in the letter as it may lower homeowner resale values.
    The declaration has no confidentiality clauses and as I own my own home and the engineering study was paid for out of the Association funds, why can't I copy the information in the letter and convey it to whomever I choose?
  • Our HOA has hired a wetlands specialist and civil engineer

    Our HOA has hired a wetlands specialist and civil engineer to develop our wetlands. We will hire landscapers to do the contract work. Does the wet lands specialist and engineer need a contractor's license to work for us when they are operating in an advisory
    capacity?
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