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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    2

    Question When Does a Retaining Wall Need Repair or Replacement?

    Hello,
    This is my first time using the site. Thanks for any help or advice that you could provide.

    I live in Michigan in a city neighborhood. Our property is quite a bit higher than the property behind us (about 8' height differential from their yard to ours). The first 4' or so of this distance is occupied by a sloping (by design) stack of railroad ties. At the top of this stack is a 6' fence. I believe the entire retaining wall and fence is on our property. The fence is leaning towards their property, but it does not seem to be in danger of falling, nor does the lean make it hang over the property line. The railroad ties are badly rotted in some spots, with loose pieces that may fall into (or be pulled down into) their yard. There are small children who use the yard, and may be inclined to climb up onto the railroad ties. There seems to be no danger of total collapse, nor of any soil spillage from our yard to theirs, at least not from "natural causes".
    Our neighbor wants us to repair or replace the railroad ties, mostly for aesthetic reasons, which I am not inclined to do unless there is danger of fence or wall collapse, which I don't think is the case. Should I let her try to prove that the wall is unsound? I am concerned that if one of the children climbs onto the wall and a piece of rotted wood causes them to fall, that I could somehow be held liable. Is it in my interest to put a fence down at her level to keep the kids off or is this her responsibility?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Behind a Desk
    Posts
    98,846

    Default Re: When Does a Retaining Wall Need Repair or Replacement?

    It's the neighbor behind you, in the lower property, who wants the wall fixed?

    Your first step would be to find out where the property line actually lies, as it may not even be your wall.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: When Does a Retaining Wall Need Repair or Replacement?

    I've checked a survey from when we bought the house about 8 years ago, and it does look like it is entirely on our property. The owner of the yard below us wants it fixed, mainly for aesthetic reasons. She also wants it fixed because she is concerned that if her kids climb on it and a rotten piece gives way, they will fall.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    28,906

    Default Re: When Does a Retaining Wall Need Repair or Replacement?

    It's unlikely that the neighbor's sense of aesthetics will create any legal duty on your part to maintain the wall. (Local zoning ordinances can sometimes be a bit intrusive, though.) If she is worried about her kids, but doesn't want to instruct them to stay off of the wall, as you note a fence should do the trick.

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