How to Deal With Water Runoff From a Neighbor’s Property

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: March 18, 2024

Even when everyone is on the best of terms, water runoff from your neighbor’s property can cause trouble. It might be a constant nuisance or a serious problem that threatens your home.

What can you do about puddles in the yard and rivers around the foundation? Do you need DIY drainage solutions, legal help or a homeowners insurance upgrade?

If the runoff is bad enough to generate flooding and affect your home, we recommend checking your insurance coverage for water damage caused by a neighbor. Still, you want to address the problem before it fills up the basement or washes away your storage shed.

Residential Water Runoff: Why Does It Happen?

The reasons for water runoff from a neighbor’s property can start with the obvious. Installing a pool or pouring a concrete deck eliminates natural surfaces that soak up rain water. When you’re downhill from new construction, you’re in the direct line of runoff.

If the neighbor makes major landscape changes, alterations can redirect water flow and send it streaming through your property. The problem might be something as simple as a neglected yard next door. Poorly kept lawns can erode and send heavy rains flooding across your property.

Water Runoff Damage: How Can You Stop It?

You’re tired of puddles in the lawn killing your grass. You’re worried about a water-damaged foundation turning into a flooded basement. It’s almost impossible to stop residential water runoff, but you can slow it down. These three DIY drainage projects can divert runoff and minimize water damage caused by your neighbor.

1. Dig Swales and Build Berms

These landscape features help redirect runoff away from your property. Swales create low areas that encourage drainage while berms work as water sheds that reinforce the effectiveness of your swales.

2. Install In-Ground Drainage to a Dry Well

Control excess water runoff by directing it to a dry well. The job takes several days and plenty of muscle, but it works especially well for low areas of the yard that tend to pond.

3. Catch Runoff in French Drains

These gravel-filled trenches usually include perforated pipes that distribute runoff through the soil. French drains are easier to install than dry well systems, and they’re eco-friendly too.

Before you start a DIY drainage project, confirm the location of any underground utility lines on your property. It’s a good idea to make sure you’ll be in compliance with neighborhood zoning regulations too.

Do You Need Legal Advice?

If you’re thinking about legal action, talk to your neighbor first, and try to work things out. However, if you’re facing major repairs and water damage restoration, an attorney can help you evaluate the situation.

• Did damages result from weather conditions or naturally occurring terrain?

• Were there any unreasonable changes made to the landscape adjacent to your home?

• Did the neighbor alter surface water drainage knowing that it could damage your property?

• Are there any zoning restrictions or land-use ordinances that come into play?

If you can prove liability or neglect, you may be able to recover the cost of repairs and water remediation services. However, it’s often less expensive and time-consuming to address the problems on your own.

Does Your Insurance Cover Water Runoff Damage?

It’s important to understand your insurance coverage for water damage caused by a neighbor, so talk to your agent about policy details. Often, homeowners policies cover damages resulting from a neighbor’s negligence, but they don’t protect your home from flooding due to natural disasters.

Ask about coverage for water runoff during rain storms or snow melts. You may want to update your current homeowners policy or buy separate flood insurance. Your agent can help you make the best decision.

Keep Us on Your List of Options

Once they realize the extent of water runoff damage, most neighbors are willing to address drainage problems. It can take time, but they usually understand that their efforts pay off in the long run. Still, it’s good to know you have options if they aren’t willing to work with you.

Be sure to keep ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba on that list of options. We can’t make the neighbors fix their drainage problems, but we can help you recover from all types of water disasters. Our certified water restoration services cover everything, and we’re always here to answer your questions.