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Is the collapsing of a wall that belongs to the neighbor an issue when buying a home?

Denville, NJ |

I am in the process of buying a house and there is a dividing collapsing wall between both houses. The wall is 3 feet tall with stone to contain some soil located in the neighbor's property..According to the seller, the wall belongs to the neighbor. If the wall falls, it will fall into the side of the home that I am planning to buy? Who will be responsible to fix? how can I really check that that wall belongs to him and not me?

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Attorney answers 3


When you buy a house, get a meets and bounds, and walk it off to see whose property it is on. If it is on the neighboors, verify with him or her that they own the Wall. If on the property you are purchasing, I would negotiate with the Seller more.

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You should have a survey of the property done BEFORE you close on the house and that will determine who owns the wall. If it is on the property you plan to buy, you will be responsible. If it is on the neighbors property you will have to rely on the neighbor to fix it. Keep in mind that the neighbor is not obligated to fix the wall just because you ask them too and if they refuse, that can cause problems as well.

You should always consult with an attorney about your particular situation. The information provided here is general in nature and should not be considered legal advice specific to your situation. No attorney client relationship is established by virtue of this response.


Yes, a collapsing retaining wall is an issue when buying a home.

The wall, if it collapses, may damage the home and cause drainage issues leading to water infiltration and damage.

As my colleagues indicate, you should obtain a survey to determine if the wall is located on the Seller's property or on the neighbor's property.

If it is one the Seller's property, you should ask that the wall be repaired and obtain an estimate to have it repaired.

If it is on the neighbor's side, and the neighbor refuses to repair, you are buying a lawsuit that could cost you in excess of $10,000 to $20,000 - should the wall fail and cause damage to your home.

Should you decide to buy the home, I would recommend sending a letter by regular and certified mail stating your concern with the condition of the wall and requesting that they repair it. Keep a copy of the letter for your records. In that way, if you end up in court, you can argue that you put them on notice of the problem and they ignored it.

If this answer was helpful, please mark it as helpful or as a best answer. This answer is for general education purposes only. It neither creates an attorney-client relationship nor provides legal guidance or advice. The answer is based on the limited information provided and the answer might be different had additional information been provided. You should consult an attorney.