Neighbors Gutter Drains on My Property. All houses and communities have problems. You can’t ignore them forever.
By Ilyce Glink and Samuel J. Tamkin
Q: I wonder if you can give me some advice. I live in a townhouse cluster that is governed by a community association. I’ve been having an issue with a neighbor about a gutter on their house which extends over my driveway.
This summer, I noticed a large amount of water spilling from this gutter onto my driveway. I was concerned, because during the winter the downspout causes a skating rink on that part of my driveway. About a year ago, I slipped on the ice and fell on my driveway, fracturing my hip and a bone in my wrist. As you can imagine, I’m concerned about my safety this winter.
Cleaning Gutters Didn’t Fix Problem
I said something to my neighbors about the gutter, and they ignored me and showed no interest in the problem. I submitted a complaint to the community association, which resulted in the neighbors hiring a company to clean out the gutters. The community association then determined that my neighbors were in compliance with the community guidelines. However, a simple cleaning hardly begins to address the problem with this gutter.
People tell me I need to get a gutter expert to support my position on the gutter placement and that my neighbor’s leaf guard system makes the problem worse. I’m told the gutter problem stemmed from a design issue, which I feel is a baloney excuse. I had a design issue with my front gutter and had to replace it twice to get a proper solution.
The community association is aware of the situation as is my neighbor. Don’t they have some amount of responsibility or culpability to fix the problem? If the community association rules against me, should I get a lawyer involved? If so, what kind of lawyer would handle the case?
Neighbor Issues Plague Many Homeowners
Q: Neighbor issues continue to plague many homeowners. Whether it’s tree debris, parking, or water issues, like yours, it seems to be getting much harder for neighbors to work out issues peacefully and constructively. Some neighbors are more than willing to help. Others simply want to ignore any problems that come up.
But here’s the thing: All houses and communities have problems. You can’t ignore them forever.
You didn’t provide enough of a description of the problem for us to give you concrete ideas on how to solve the problem. But, you said you brought in a gutter expert. What were his suggestions to solve the problem? Did you get an estimate on the cost?
It’s easy to imagine that your neighbor’s gutter clogs and water spills over onto your driveway. We can also see how cleaning out the downspouts regularly should fix the problem as the water from the roof should go down the gutters and into the downspout – not onto your driveway.
Contact the Experts to Find Solution
If the volume of water from the roof is more than the gutters and downspouts can handle, the only solution is to install a larger gutter and downspout to handle the larger volume of water. We suspect, however, that your neighbor is unwilling to bear the cost of that installation. He installed a system on his gutters to keep the leaves out and you mentioned that this is also a source of the problem.
The best solution will have to come from the experts. Contact a few gutter companies to get their opinions on what could be done to fix the problem on your neighbor’s home. You should also get estimates from these companies as to what it would cost to fix the situation. This will tell you what work has to be done and what that will cost. But, we’re willing to bet that your neighbor isn’t going to want to spend even a dime to fix the problem, even though water runoff can cause foundation damage and other structural problems.
Bring Solutions and Costs for Problem
Is it worth it to you to fix it for him? While we’d hope the neighbor would step up and fix a problem that’s already caused an injury, he might be willing to let you pay to upgrade his gutters or regrade his property.
Is there anything that can be done from your side to alleviate the situation? You might be able to install a french drain or some other solution that would help drain the water away from your driveway. You may want to talk to a landscaping company to see if there’s something you can do to reduce the water flow on your property.
Once you have the solutions and costs, you can try to talk to your neighbor about remediation. If not, see if the association will respond positively to your proposals.
When all else fails, you might have to figure out how to fix it yourself. If you decide to hire an attorney, we suspect the legal fees would exceed the cost of the repair. If you go down that road, find an attorney that has handled real estate and community association litigation issues in the past and has experience with neighbor relations.
Good luck and we hope you get the problem fixed before there’s too much ice and snow around.
©2022 by Ilyce Glink and Samuel J. Tamkin.