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Flooding Caused By Builders And Developers Altering The Terrain: Potential Nuisance And…

Flooding Caused By Builders And Developers Altering The Terrain: Potential Nuisance And Trespass Claims

New Building And Development Activities Causing Storm Water Flooding On Adjacent Properties

As new building developments in suburban and rural areas become more prevalent, the chances of property owners and their properties near to these developments being adversely affected in one way or another by the development activities increases as well. A not so usual scenario is the developer of a new building project alters the terrain of the development site that results in increased storm water runoff onto adjacent properties. When a property owner complains of the increased storm water drainage from the development site, there is often no helpful response from the developer. When pressed to address the drainage problem, the developer often responds that it has a building permit that allows its actions or its actions are otherwise lawful, even though the actions are resulting in flooding of adjacent properties. Complaints to municipal or county officials responsible for issuing the applicable building permits may not provide any better results.

Legal Remedies For Property Owners Damaged By Nearby Development Activities

What should an affected property owner do? When a builder/developer, engages in activity that is otherwise lawful, but that causes damage to the property of another, the builder/developer may be liable to adjoining property owners for damages sustained as a result of its development activities. Property owners have successfully recovered monetary damages from builders and developers by asserting nuisance and trespass claims. The adjoining property owner can seek damages for costs of repair, diminution in the value of their property, and discomfort and annoyance from the loss of the enjoyment of the owner’s property as a result of the activities of the builder/developer. The impacted property owner may also be able to seek attorneys’ fees and punitive damages from the builders and developers as a result of their development activities.

Oftentimes, builders/developers operate under the mistaken assumption that approvals by the local governing authority of development plans make their development activities immune or insulated from property damage nuisance and trespass claims by adjacent property owners. That assumption is not correct, and the builder or developer may be liable for damages to adjacent landowners caused by its building or development activities.

Preserve The Evidence In Your Nuisance And Trespass Case 

It is important for landowners who are impacted by nearby development activities to document the ways in which they or their property are being affected by the nearby development activities. This includes taking photographs and videos of any flooding event that is occurring as a result of the development activities, and obtaining estimates for any repairs that are required on the landowner’s properties as a result of the flooding. A landowner can never gather too much evidence to prove their case, and that means photographing, recording videos, or otherwise documenting every flooding event that occurs and is reasonably believed to have been caused by the development activities nearby. If a flooding event cannot be documented with a video or photographs, recording the flooding event on a calendar is also useful for preserving evidence. In fact, the affected landowner may be the most important witness in proving their case. And their testimony will be more credible if it is substantiated with videos, photographs, and documentary evidence of the flooding events as they occurred.

Make Written Complaints To The Developer And To The Governing Authority

After a landowner has experienced a flooding event caused by the actions or omissions of the builder or developer on nearby property, the affected landowner should make a written complaint to the developer and to the county or city that issued any building permits for the project about the incident. For example, if the builder or developer alters the terrain of the adjacent property that causes flooding, the landowner needs to complain in writing about the flooding event and why he or she believes it occurred. It is vitally important to complain about the flooding in writing and to request that the builder/developer takes steps to end the flooding in the future. This is known legally as requesting that the nuisance be abated.

Consult An Attorney With Experience In Nuisance And Trespass Cases

With the photographic, video, and other evidence gathered to document the flooding caused by nearby builders/developers activities, affected landowners would be best served to contact an attorney experienced in handling nuisance and trespass claims against builders and developers. An experienced attorney in this area will make sure that the elements of the nuisance and trespass claims have been documented with relevant and admissible evidence before a lawsuit is to be filed. This usually means that the damaged landowner is better served obtaining an attorney in this area at the onset of flooding problems caused by the nearby development activities. The attorney can help guide the affected landowner in obtaining and preserving evidence, and placing all potential defendants on notice that the flooding problem has to promptly be addressed. Please contact Rumsey & Ramsey, a Dunwoody, Georgia law firm, at (770) 394-9400 to discuss your property damage claim against a builder or developer with an attorney.