Maybe your neighbor has water from their yard draining onto your property and you are wondering if they can do this. Or, maybe on the other hand, you are draining water from your yard into your neighbors and wonder if this is allowed. Many times, we have property that does not drain well on its own, and we install drains and pipes to help funnel pooling rainwater away from buildings and out of our yards. Often this is never a problem but sometimes a neighbor will take issue with the fact that another is draining water onto their property. If you are the neighbor having the water drained onto your property, or you are the one doing the draining, you may be wondering if this is allowed and what the remedies might be for this.
The North Carolina Supreme Court in Pendergrast v Aiken has adopted the “rule if reasonable use with respect to surface water drainage which allows landowners to “make a reasonable use of [their] land, even though the flow of surface water is altered thereby and causes some harm to other.” This however, does not mean that a person can just drain as much water as they like onto their neighbor’s property in any manner that they want to, the court stated that there can be a cause of action if the flow of water causes substantial damage and a one of two situations applies. If the harm caused is substantial and the person diverting the water made the alterations in a way that is either (1) intentional or reckless, or (2) negligent, reckless or in the course of an abnormally dangerous activity, then there may be legal remedies available. Thus, in essence a person can divert water to their neighbor’s yard so long as it does not cause substantial harm, and even if it does cause substantial harm, they can still so long as it is not unreasonable and is not negligent, reckless or in the course of an abnormally dangerous activity.
If your neighbor has taken issue with your draining of water into your yard, or on the other hand you believe your neighbor’s draining of water into your yard is a problem, King Law can help. Give us a call at (888) 748-5464 and we would be glad to discuss this issue and any potential legal remedies with you.