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Old 05-22-2011, 05:27 PM
 
50 posts, read 187,823 times
Reputation: 19

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Hope someone can help. Our backyard has a wood retaining wall that backs up to a neighbors property. The retaining wall is in desperate need of repair. I am trying to figure out who is responsible for the repairs. Our property is lower than theirs so I believe the wall is "retaining" their property.

I would ask the neighbor but he is extremely difficult to work with and I am trying to avoid him until I know where I stand.

Thank you in advance for any help you can give.
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Old 05-22-2011, 06:03 PM
 
Location: New Jersey
219 posts, read 523,596 times
Reputation: 114
Sometimes mutually beneficial walls like that are a product of an agreement, which if properly executed should be of record (where your deed is recorded). That may be a start (and possibly an answer too). Check your title documents too, maybe there is some explanation (although it will probably be just an exclusion on the policy).

They may also be in place by the developer, plat, restrictions, or addressed in HOA records.

Where is the wall located? On your property or theirs? Who built it (ie which previous owner)?

If it seems as if ownership belongs to the other, I don't think you can force repairs at this time. However if it has already shown signs of failure, you may hint that you will not tolerate the boundary line encroachment and maybe that will open negotiations toward repairs, before it is too late and you are forced to file a complaint for damages.

If the wall is on your property you may not have as much leverage in having them chip in to repair it. If it fails and he argues you had an opportunity to reduce damage (and he will), you might end up having to bear the brunt of the clean up and repairs to the wall.

All this is speculative, and depends on your jurisdiction. I'd see if you can consult with an attorney (on the sly) for an initial consultation, but bring answers to the above questions with you.

Good luck.

edit: Initial consultation with a Real Estate Attorney (or preferably a specialist such as a RE Title Attorney). No reason to consult with a litigation attorney just yet .

edit2: I also forgot to mention it could be a party wall, which typically is involved with PUDs or HOAs which title documents will have the answer you are looking for. If not, it is the same common property as the common areas in a condo or townhouse set up, where each member is partial owner, and partially responsible in relation to ownership rights (ie 1/2, 1/5, etc...)

Last edited by Jersied; 05-22-2011 at 06:16 PM..
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Old 05-22-2011, 07:31 PM
 
886 posts, read 2,519,086 times
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Sounds like you're fixing a wall.
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Old 05-23-2011, 07:33 AM
 
1,610 posts, read 4,476,158 times
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Where is the wall located? On your property or theirs? Who built it (ie which previous owner)? the answer will answer your question,you may have to pay for a survey if you want something done,try to split the cost with your neighbor.
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Old 05-23-2011, 11:43 AM
 
Location: Tri-State Area
2,942 posts, read 5,754,852 times
Reputation: 1833
Take a look at your property deed, it should indicate if wall is yours or theirs. If it's theirs, make an offer to go joint on repairs - if owner refuses and you really want to repair it, are you prepared to spend the money necessary to do so?
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Old 05-23-2011, 05:54 PM
 
50 posts, read 187,823 times
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I don't know who's property the wall is on. It seems to be on the "property line" so I guess I need to research the deed to the house. I don't know when or who built it because it was here when I bought the house 9 years ago. His fence is installed on top of the wall so I hope that means the wall is his! Again, he is a difficult neighbor to work with so I don't see this being easy. Thank you so much for the replies!
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Old 05-25-2011, 01:42 PM
 
Location: Suffolk County
827 posts, read 2,964,449 times
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Your survey should show whose property the retaining wall is on. If it is on your property, it will be on your survey. My house has a very large retaining wall in the back and side of my house and I also have a small wood wall on the opposite side of my house which is retaining the land my neighors are using (which in reality, my survey shows is my property). Our neighors fence is on our property as well (way in from the property line) which is being retained by a small wood wall which is collapsing on my property as well...but...like I said, it retains the property they are using. If it collapses, it collapses...it wouldn't really affect me b/c it's a small wall (not high) and like I said, it's retaining what they are using. Obviously, when the wall gets really bad, I am going to let them know that it's going to totally collapse but if it falls, I don't feel it is my responsibility to fix it b/c it isn't elevating the land I'm using..it's elevating the land they are using (which again, is really my property at a much higher level but I get to have a nice fence on that side of my house so that's why i dont' make a stink about it. To be honest with you, retaining walls are a pain in the butt. If I would have known this, I may have swayed from buying the house. They also cost a fortune to fix!

Good luck.
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