Adam Martinez, Rose Law Group Real Estate Litigation Department Chairman, answers the question, are property owners responsible for changes that result in flooding?
Question: For years we have owned a beautiful ranch style property in North Phoenix. The homes in our neighborhood have large irrigated lots. Recently, my neighbor behind us built an addition to the back of her home and a large outside entertaining area. Ever since she completed the additions, her irrigation floods onto our yard and carries debris, including manure, which covers a concrete slab with a roof where we store various items. I have informed her of the problem but she will not address it. I believe the problem with the irrigation can be easily resolved. What I am really worried about are the monsoons and the damage that increased flooding could cause while we are out of town during the summer. Is there anything I can do?
Answer: Yes. While an owner is not generally responsible for damages caused by the natural flow of water on her property, if the owner changes the natural flow of water as a result of her improvements to her property, then she can be responsible to a neighbor for trespass and damages. You should be able to contact the City or County and have them address the problem with the neighbor as her changes may not be in compliance with applicable codes. If, however, you cannot address the problem that way, you can obtain a court order requiring your neighbor to fix the water flow problem and also pay for any damages.