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Neighbor wants access our property and put in a narrow addition to fix water damage to his garage. What should I watch out for?

Burbank, CA |

I'm a home owner in California. Recently, our neighbor has asked our permission to work on our property so they may add a narrow, sloping section to his garage wall that is right against the property line so he may fix and prevent future water damage to his garage wall. We are ok with him to have access, and asked that he call us before any work is done. He estimated the addition would only be a few inches, what's interesting is that there is a partial fence (brick) along the garage, with the rest just soil and plants. What should I watch out for in this situation? I intend to take pictures before and after. What happens if they dig up our plants or damage our sprinkler piping? Should I be concerned about insurance in case on any injuries and insist on seeing the insurance documents?

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Attorney answers 3


You should take photographs to record the state of your property prior to any work being done in the event that the work causes damages to your plants or irrigation system.


I always encourage people to be good neighbors, but it would be prudent to ask him to sign an agreement to accept financial responsibility for any damage done to your property as a result of his work. And not just something immediate such as damage to your plants or sprinkler, but there is always the possiblity that what he does to prevent water damage on his property may result in added water damage to yours.

I would recommend consulting an attorney who can draft a document with appropriate language.

(THESE COMMENTS ARE NOT LEGAL ADVICE. They are provided for informational purposes only. Actual legal advice can only be provided after consultation by an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction. Answering this question does not create an attorney-client relationship or otherwise require further consultation.)


I would recommend that you hire an attorney locally to look at this. It would be reasonable for you to request that your neighbor pay for an attorney to review the situation and draft the necessary documentation since they are the ones benefiting from the situation. Simply tell them that you intend to allow them to construct, but want legal advice on how to document the situation first.

You are right to watch out for the issues included in your question. First, you want to make sure that the contractor is licensed and insured since he and/or his subcontractors will be operating on your property. Secondly, you want any agreement to include a commitment by your neighbor to put your landscaping back as they found it. You may even want to go so far as to have the property surveyed and have an easement drafted for any encroachment onto your property. Without this, you could end up being the one with a problem when you sell.

There are a number of other issues that could come up, including how this will affect drainage onto your property, and I would encourage you to have a conversation with an attorney who can go over the relevant issues with you in person.

Cameron R. Kelly "">Cameron Kelly Law, LLC