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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2020
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    2

    Default Retaining Walls

    My question involves real estate located in the State of: California

    I know this is a popular topic and has been brought up many times, but I'm very confused about responsibility of retaining wall maintenance.

    My home was built in 1911 and would be considered the "uphill property". The neighboring building was built in 1924. I don't know for sure when the retaining was was built but suspect it was built at the time the neighboring property was developed so they would have a flat lot to build on. And given the laws regarding the right to lateral and subjacent support, I suspect it was built with that in mind.

    It's difficult to tell without a survey where exactly the wall sits in relation to the property line. But lets say for argument sake, that it is built on my property and the outside facing side of the wall serves as the property line. Does it really matter where the wall sits that defines the responsibility for maintenance? It seems to me that my right to lateral support and the downhill neighbor's obligation to provide it wouldn't go away simply because someone placed the retaining wall on my property. Will look for some case law but would appreciate feedback. Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    16,474

    Default Re: Retaining Walls

    Quote Quoting EJS63
    View Post
    My question involves real estate located in the State of: California

    I know this is a popular topic and has been brought up many times, but I'm very confused about responsibility of retaining wall maintenance.

    My home was built in 1911 and would be considered the "uphill property". The neighboring building was built in 1924. I don't know for sure when the retaining was was built but suspect it was built at the time the neighboring property was developed so they would have a flat lot to build on. And given the laws regarding the right to lateral and subjacent support, I suspect it was built with that in mind.

    It's difficult to tell without a survey where exactly the wall sits in relation to the property line. But lets say for argument sake, that it is built on my property and the outside facing side of the wall serves as the property line. Does it really matter where the wall sits that defines the responsibility for maintenance? It seems to me that my right to lateral support and the downhill neighbor's obligation to provide it wouldn't go away simply because someone placed the retaining wall on my property. Will look for some case law but would appreciate feedback. Thanks
    Except perhaps that the original builder might have built up your side of the property to give whomever owned your lot more of a flat lot for building.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    1,279

    Default Re: Retaining Walls

    Were the wall is built is important.

    Section 841(a) of the California Civil Code affixes joint responsibility between landowners for the maintenance of boundaries and monuments between them, however, the law appears silent when the fence/wall is solely one one person's land.

    https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/f...er=2.&article=

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    7,056

    Default Re: Retaining Walls

    Quote Quoting EJS63
    View Post
    My question involves real estate located in the State of: California

    I know this is a popular topic and has been brought up many times, but I'm very confused about responsibility of retaining wall maintenance.

    My home was built in 1911 and would be considered the "uphill property". The neighboring building was built in 1924. I don't know for sure when the retaining was was built but suspect it was built at the time the neighboring property was developed so they would have a flat lot to build on. And given the laws regarding the right to lateral and subjacent support, I suspect it was built with that in mind.

    It's difficult to tell without a survey where exactly the wall sits in relation to the property line. But lets say for argument sake, that it is built on my property and the outside facing side of the wall serves as the property line. Does it really matter where the wall sits that defines the responsibility for maintenance? It seems to me that my right to lateral support and the downhill neighbor's obligation to provide it wouldn't go away simply because someone placed the retaining wall on my property. Will look for some case law but would appreciate feedback. Thanks
    You first have to know if the wall is on your property, the neighbor's property, or on the boundary line so a survey should be conducted.

    You would have no responsibility to repair the wall if it is not located (at all) on your property unless you and the neighbor can agree to some sort of compromise to repair the wall. But if any portion of the wall is on your property even though it may have been built by the neighbor for the neighbor's benefit, you could be held responsible in part or in whole to repair it by the local jurisdiction as it creates a public or private nuisance under CA case law.

    Whatever the respective rights and obligations of the several property owners among themselves may be (see e.g., 6 Miller & Starr, Cal. Real Estate (4th ed. 2015) § 17:19 [discussing doctrine of lateral support]), every property owner owes to the public a duty to remediate a public nuisance on their property. (See People ex rel. Gallo v. Acuņa (1997) 14 Cal.4th 1090, 1103 ["public nuisance doctrine is aimed at the protection and redress of community interests"]; Leslie Salt Co. v. San Francisco Bay etc. Com. (1984) 153 Cal.App.3d 605, 622 (Leslie Salt) ["the private right to control land carries with it certain strictly enforceable public responsibilities"].) The city is authorized to enforce that obligation. (Gov. Code, § 38771 ["By ordinance the city legislative body may declare what constitutes a nuisance"]; S.F. Building Code, § 102A [declaring "buildings, structures, property, or portions thereof" that are "structurally unsafe" to be public nuisances].) All that is necessary to establish the propriety of the abatement orders, in addition to proper notice and a fair hearing, is that a portion of the wall be situated on the appellants' property and in an unsafe condition constituting a public nuisance. (Leslie Salt, supra, at p. 622 ["liability and the duty to take affirmative action flow not from the landowner's active responsibility for a condition of his land . . . [but] simply, from his very possession and control of the land in question"].)
    https://scholar.google.com/scholar_c...=en&as_sdt=4,5

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2020
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Retaining Walls

    Thank you all very much. Very helpful. Turns out the wall is on the neighbor's property.

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