What to do about a property line dispute on water run-off

UPDATED: Sep 17, 2012

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What to do about a property line dispute on water run-off

I need to find papers that will require our neighbor to stop run-off onto our property or at least a recourse to legal advice. We live in a county area. The neighbor has a steep hillside /mountain side home. That property had a natural run-off from rain onto his property at the bottom of his “hill”. He has since cleared the entire hillside of vegetation and raised the dirt level at the bottom (which joins our property) above ours and has slopped the whole hillside toward our property. Now when it rains water runs into our field and garden area flooding it. We had offered to dig a drainage ditch for him last summer. We cannot dig it on our side due to gas well pipe. We have tried to be nice. But we do not want our property ruined.

Asked on September 17, 2012 under Real Estate Law, West Virginia


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You could sue your neighbor for nuisance.  Nuisance is a serious and unreasonable interference with the use or enjoyment of your property.

Damages (monetary compensation you are seeking in a lawsuit) would be an inadequate remedy because of multiplicity of lawsuits as the flooding of your property is an ongoing problem.  Damages are also inadequate because land is unique.

When damages are an inadequate remedy, you can pursue an equitable remedy which in this case would be an injunction.  A court will balance the benefits and burdens to the parties in deciding whether or not to grant an injunction.  The benefit to you of not having your property flooded will be balanced against the burden of the cost to your neighbor of preventing the flooding with a drainage ditch or some other measure to stop the flooding.

The court may grant a temporary restraining order which would be in effect until a preliminary hearing, at which time the court will determine whether to grant a preliminary injunction which will be in effect until trial, at which time the court will determine whether or not to grant a permanent injunction. 

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