My Neighbor Damaged Our Common Wall
Question: Our next door neighbor has damaged the cinder block wall that runs along the property-line between our homes by constantly soaking it with his lawn sprinklers. I am concerned that if and when I decide to sell my Peoria home, a buyer might say, “All right, I’ll take it, but only on condition that you repair the wall.” Is there any way to convince our neighbor to repair the damage to the wall now? Otherwise, the only possibility I see is to pay for the repair of the wall myself, and then get a judgment against our neighbor for the repair costs in Small Claims Court. Our neighbor would probably ignore this judgment. Any chance that a judge could order our neighbor to fix the wall?
Answer: The general rule on the maintenance of common walls between neighbors is that both neighbors have joint liability to maintain and repair the common wall. If one neighbor is solely responsible for the damage to the common wall, however, that neighbor has the sole obligation to pay for the repairs to the common wall. If that neighbor will not pay for the repairs, the other neighbor can make the repairs and sue for reimbursement for the cost of the repairs.
Note: In your case, only out-of-pocket repair expenses are generally recognized by courts as damages. A court will not order the at-fault neighbor to make the repairs. You, the neighbor requesting the repairs, will have to pay to make the repairs. Once the amount for making the repairs has been paid, then a court can order you a monetary judgment against the at-fault neighbor for the cost of these repairs.
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