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  1. #1
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    Default Water Damage, Neighbor Blocking Repair Because Concern About Trees on Foundation Line

    My question involves a consumer law issue in the State of: California

    I occasionally get water coming in to my family room and garage. This only happens after several days of heavy rain. The water is coming from the saturated ground, and only on the side that is next to my neighbors. Our house, in the front and back, is 97% concrete on that side. (Small gap for a hedge to grow through)

    We have a zero lot line with a five foot easement. The neighbor has two or three tall palm trees in that easement next to our foundation. We want to inject a polyurethane foam into the ground all along the foundation on that zero lot line. This would create a below ground water proof barrier, and would be done without having to remove his trees. This product is safe and rated OK for drinking water. But neighbor is concerned and wants me to pay if a tree dies, or wilts, down the road. Note that the foam only expands two feet.

    The easement does allow plants in the easement, but no permanent structures, and trees are not mentioned. Also, there is a drain that exits his property onto mine, that is not draining. The drain is underground, so we don't know what it should be doing, or where it actually goes. There is a chance if the drain was working that I would not have these water issues, since they only happen with many days of heavy rain.

    So, am I responsible for his trees? Is he responsible for any cost of repairs, as I do have water damage beside the cost to fix future water intrusions. Can he block me from doing repairs? Would it legally be better, or the same, if I destroyed the trees by just putting in french drains? (I thought I was being nice by finding this solution, but most companies recommended the french drains.)

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Water Damage, Neighbor Blocking Repair Because Concern About Trees on Foundation

    Quote Quoting Jelly23
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    So, am I responsible for his trees?
    You kill the trees with the foam, you pay for the trees. Doesn't matter what it says on the label.

    Quote Quoting Jelly23
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    Is he responsible for any cost of repairs, as I do have water damage beside the cost to fix future water intrusions.
    Was he negligent in causing your damage? Was he notified in writing at some point that a condition on his property was damaging yours? I tend to doubt it. You can, of course, give him written notice now but he might only be responsible for future damage and not for what has already happened. Negligence law is complicated.

    Quote Quoting Jelly23
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    Can he block me from doing repairs?
    He can seek an injunction in court to prevent you from using the foam but without one he can't stop you from using it inside your property line.

    But you say there is an easement. You should read the terms of the easement to see if there are limitations as to what you can do within the 5 feet.

    Quote Quoting Jelly23
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    Would it legally be better, or the same, if I destroyed the trees by just putting in french drains? (I thought I was being nice by finding this solution, but most companies recommended the french drains.)
    Again, whatever YOU do that kills the trees, you pay for the trees.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Water Damage, Neighbor Blocking Repair Because Concern About Trees on Foundation

    Thank you for the response.

    While I agree in theory, there are several extenuating factors. The easement is clear that I have access to the area for maintenance. And it does state that the neighbor can plant "flowers, plants, and lawn" trees are not mentioned. It goes on to state that no permanent installations should be made in the easement area. So the big question is is a large tree a permanent installation? I think the intent of the easement is so that I can do maintenance, without having to worry about a huge cost to repair or replace a permanent installation. These trees could cost $20,000 each to replace. And if a building is a permanent installation, isn't a large tree also one, as both can be torn down. If it were simple flowers or lawn, then it would not be an issue.

    Next, because the foam is safe to be used around trees, I don't expect it to actually damage the trees. But because it is a water barrier, it could prevent the trees root from getting water from under my house. And a year from now the tree could get a disease or have other issues. So how do you know what caused the problem a year or two from now.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Water Damage, Neighbor Blocking Repair Because Concern About Trees on Foundation

    Last time I checked a tree was a plant.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Water Damage, Neighbor Blocking Repair Because Concern About Trees on Foundation

    Boy oh boy are you over thinking this not withstanding Jack's post. You can do whatever you like on your own property to protect your property from flooding or water intrusion into your home as long as it doesn't cause problems for other properties in a way that you divert water onto another property.

    If you put in a drain or treat the property with some barrier and the tree dies, you are no more responsible than as if a tornado took down your neighbor's tree.

    Having said that, I am leery of any claim that injecting foam into your soil will prevent water intrusion into your home. It sounds like a scam to me.

    A large tree is not the same as you building a shed or other structure in the easement.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Water Damage, Neighbor Blocking Repair Because Concern About Trees on Foundation

    Quote Quoting Jelly23
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    Our house, in the front and back, is 97% concrete on that side. (Small gap for a hedge to grow through)
    Your house is concrete on the side and has a gap for a hedge to grow through? Huh?


    Quote Quoting Jelly23
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    am I responsible for his trees?
    If the trees are on your neighbor's property and die as a result of something you do, you could be held legally liable.


    Quote Quoting Jelly23
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    Is he responsible for any cost of repairs
    I cannot discern from your post whether the damage is being caused by your neighbor.


    Quote Quoting Jelly23
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    Can he block me from doing repairs?
    We have no way of knowing what abilities your neighbor has.


    Quote Quoting Jelly23
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    Would it legally be better, or the same, if I destroyed the trees by just putting in french drains?
    Better or the same as what?

    P.S. It might be somewhat if you drew and uploaded crude map that shows where everything is and clearly explains where the easement is located.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Water Damage, Neighbor Blocking Repair Because Concern About Trees on Foundation

    Quote Quoting pg1067
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    If the trees are on your neighbor's property and die as a result of something you do, you could be held legally liable.
    I would like to read any case law in any state that backs up your statement.

    Here we have a case where OP's home has water infiltration. There is an easement of 5 feet onto OP's property for the planting of vegetation. The remedy has nothing to do with a tree that is on the easement. If treating the infiltration problem results in the loss of the tree which I doubt, show me the law that says OP is liable for tree damage.

    The property is still his and I don't know of any common law that says the tree is more important than him maintaining his property in a non-exclusive easement.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Water Damage, Neighbor Blocking Repair Because Concern About Trees on Foundation

    Quote Quoting budwad
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    Having said that, I am leery of any claim that injecting foam into your soil will prevent water intrusion into your home. It sounds like a scam to me.
    It isn't a scam. It's a polymer compound that becomes as solid as a concrete root barrier.

    It's similar to stuff that's used to level concrete slabs that have settled (PolyLevel). It's touted as being eco-friendly.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Water Damage, Neighbor Blocking Repair Because Concern About Trees on Foundation

    Quote Quoting PayrolGuy
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    Last time I checked a tree was a plant.
    A tree is a plant, but is a large tree not meant to be removed a permanent installation?

    pg1067, we don't know exactly why the water is coming from. It may be because his roots have created cracks in the foundation. We don't know. And the trees are in the five foot easement which prohibits various "permanent installations". For flowers or lawn, we would be expected to pay for repair. The easement is there to let us do maintenance. And I think they blocked permanent installations because they block my ability to do maintenance. Which a large tree also blocks my ability to do maintenance, but the easement doesn't mention trees at all. So bit of a grey area or interpretation issue.

    Quote Quoting adjusterjack
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    It isn't a scam. It's a polymer compound that becomes as solid as a concrete root barrier.

    It's similar to stuff that's used to level concrete slabs that have settled (PolyLevel). It's touted as being eco-friendly.
    I verified the usage with the manufacturer of the chemical. It seems legit. They will inject into the ground every two feet all along the foundation to create a overlapping curtain down to 8 to 10 feet. This will keep water from saturated ground from flowing over to under our property.

    It is drinking water safe. And in this case it was the best option to not bother his trees. I choose this route to be nice, before even talking to my neighbor.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Water Damage, Neighbor Blocking Repair Because Concern About Trees on Foundation

    Quote Quoting Jelly23
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    I choose this route to be nice, before even talking to my neighbor.
    Stop talking and just do it.

    The "what ifs" might never happen.

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