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Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 102192
Experience:  Qualified attorney in private practice including business, family, criminal, and real estate issues.
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We live on a rural road in a lake community. The road's homes

Customer Question

We live on a rural road in a lake community. The road's homes are lakefront with the road behind the homes. Across the road is a hill that is private property. This hill is eroding drastically due to the torrential rains in May. Trees, boulders and huge amounts of mud have slid down, but the owner of the hill will not reinforce it or clean it up. Emergency Management can only suggest voluntary evacuation, but we have too much invested/owed on our home to leave. How should we approach the owner of the hill and what rights do we have?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Ely replied 2 years ago.
Hello and welcome to JustAnswer. Please note:
(A) This is general information and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein. No attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. This is repeated in numerous disclaimers throughout the site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms; and (B) there may be a slight delay between your follow ups and my reply while I am typing out my answer.
I am sorry to hear about this situation.
Texas adheres to the common enemy rule when it comes to water. This rule means that the neighbor has a duty "to turn surface water from his own property without liability for damage that may be caused by such obstruction or diversion. See 56 Am.Jur. Waters § 67 et seq." City of Houston v. Renault, Inc., 431 SW 2d 322 - Tex: Supreme Court 1968.
While this remains subjective, Texas continues to at least partly recognize this doctrine.
As such, the neighbor may be held liable if his actions lead to damage to someone else's property.
A good idea is a demand letter, sent by an attorney, to shore up the property or to face a lawsuit for negligence and nuisance if his non-action does indeed lead to damage.
(One can also technically sue ahead of time, asking for reasonable funds to protect one's property by building on one's property, if the neighbor is unwilling to do so on his.)
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