My Yard is Flooding and the Property Owner Refuses to Install a Drainage System, What Should I Do?

Note: The DearEsq free 'ask a lawyer' site is offered as a free informational service to the public and is not intended as legal advice. Laws vary from state-to-state, and in addition every situation is unique, and relevant facts may not be known. The answer to the question posed below may not apply to in your state or to your situation. For legal advice in your state and your situation you should consult with an attorney in your state who is familiar with the rules and laws in your state.

“We live in Washington State. When our home was built in 1989, there was suppose to be a drainage ditch installed behind our property on the boundary line. This ditch was to run for serveral homes. It was to collect water from the neighbors properties behind ours and the surface water drainage from all the new homes back yards and drain into the cities sewer system. The City started the ditch but never finished the plans. They signed off on the property and the homes were sold. (we bought one) . We have had drainage issues since we moved in. The property behind us fills up like a lake and our water has no where to drain so it fills up in our back yard. The City then signed off on another development next to ours where they built up the land and graded the properties to drain into the property behind us. They were suppose to put in a drainage system to collect this water and it was to drain into the system behind our house. Only this was never installed either. This means more water draining toward our homes. We have contacted the property owner about putting in a drainage system and he has said that the water does not come close to his house so he will not do anything about it. The city has said they will put in a system if he gives them an easement but he has refused. (the city forgot to get any easements when then built our subdivision} Now the City has ok’d another subdivision and they are allowing them to build this property up, which will dump more water into the properties behind us and flow towards our homes. We seem to be boxed in and drowning and do not know where to turn. Do we need to pursue the City to solve the problem or do we have to go after the property owner behind us? What type of lawyer handles these types of issues? Help we are drowning!”

Question: You should talk to a lawyer who specializes in real estate matters, and preferably one with experience dealing with municipalities. This is a fairly complex issue that may not have a simple legal solution, so you should keep in mind the cost of litigation versus the cost of simply paying for the necessary drainage before you decide whether to sue.