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Flooding of the property or flooding of the flat by a neighbour

You come home and step on wet carpet. You look up and freeze in horror at the absolutely soaked ceiling. Or you’re plagued by long-standing problems with mould on the walls of your house and discover that it’s the fault of your neighbour’s guttering, which is discharging water directly onto your property. Read how the law protects you in these cases and how to proceed in our article.

7 minutes of reading

Chapters of the article

How does a neighbour flood the property

Flooding of your property by a neighbour can happen in several ways. The most common ones include:

  • Sloping land: If your neighbour’s land is on a hill above your land, water will naturally flow from their land onto yours.
  • Clogged drainage systems: If your neighbor has drainage systems or gutters that are clogged or not properly maintained, this can result in excess water flowing onto your property during heavy rains.
  • Building structures without proper drainage: Construction of buildings, driveways or other structures without proper drainage can result in water being directed onto your property.
  • Failure of a retaining wall: If your neighbor has a retaining wall that fails, it can result in soil erosion and water running onto your property.
  • Harmful Intent: Don’t have a good relationship with your neighbors? Flooding can also be intentional in order to cause you harm.

What the law says about land drainage

Your neighbor’s water is classified as “immiseration. Immiseration includes anything that can pass from your neighbour’s land or flat to yours, thereby causing a nuisance and actually interfering with the ownership of your land or flat. In addition to your neighbour’s water, this includes, for example, smoke, noise, light and animal intrusion. Emissions are divided into direct and indirect.

  • Direct emissions are deliberate and so in the case of water, this would be a situation where, for example, a neighbour’s gutter was deliberately directed onto your property or, for example, the poor building structure of a neighbour’s house was causing flooding on your property. Such immiserations are always prohibited except for easements.
  • Indirect emissions, i.e. unintentional emissions, would be the case, for example, if your land is lower than your neighbour’s land and water naturally flows from his land onto yours. These are not prohibited.

As it follows, the neighbour must not deliberately divert water from his land onto your land. However, if water does flow naturally from your neighbour’s land, you will need to make appropriate improvements to your own land and possibly your house using downspouts and drainage.

Do you have problems with your neighbours?

In case of flooding of the apartment or flooding of the land by a neighbour, an agreement is usually sufficient. In some cases, however, the neighbour refuses to cooperate. In this case, leave the solution to us. We will send a summons or a lawsuit on your behalf and represent you in court.

How to defend against poor drainage on your neighbour’s land

If water from your neighbour’s land is flowing to you because of situations that fall under direct emissions, you can ask your neighbour to remedy this, for example by draining the gutter outside your property or by draining your house properly. The first step should therefore be to agree with your neighbour. However, if the agreement does not work, you can try sending the neighbour a pre-action notice.

This serves mainly as a last warning before you sue, but without having to pay a court fee and risk paying the neighbour’s litigation costs as a last resort. In addition, if a solicitor sends it directly, you have a better chance of your neighbour taking it seriously. Based on our internal statistics, we have verified that more than 70% of cases are then quickly settled or at least partially settled.

If even a pre-action notice does not work, all you have to do is file the lawsuit itself. If you win the lawsuit, your neighbour must remove the condition causing the water to flood your property. For example, they must make proper improvements to their building or land. If he does not remove the condition, you can seek court enforcement. This is enforced by means of fines, which can be recurrent and amount up to CZK 100,000.

Tip: You will only succeed in court if your lawsuit is bulletproof. Our attorneys will carefully analyze your case and prepare a pre-suit demand, a lawsuit, an appeal, or straight to representing you in court to vigorously enforce your rights.

If your property has been damaged by your neighbour’s water, you can also sue your neighbour for damages. The neighbour would then be obliged to restore your property to its original condition (e.g. repair the flooded cellar). If repair is not possible, the neighbour must compensate you financially.

When a neighbour floods your home

Almost everyone who has ever lived in an apartment has experience with flooding. This is not unusual. The most common reasons for flooding include:

  • Problems with leaking pipes: One of the most common reasons for flooding is a leak or burst pipe in a neighboring apartment. This can occur due to aging pipes, corrosion or poor maintenance. Water from a burst or leaking pipe can easily seep into walls and floors and affect neighboring units.
  • Faulty appliances: faulty appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers or boilers can flood apartments below in no time.
  • Overflowing water: If a neighbor leaves the faucet running at the bathtub or sink and forgets about it, or perhaps a toilet gets clogged and overflows, it can lead to water leaking into neighboring units.

Tip: Are you a member of a condominium or housing cooperative and have a problem with neighborhood immissions? Arrange with us to represent you at a meeting of owners or members of a housing association. We can help you with consultation and preparation for the meeting, or attend the meeting directly to represent your interests and protect your rights. We will see that everything is conducted in accordance with the law.

What the law says about flooding a flat

The person who caused the flooding is responsible for flooding the home. This applies in cases where the flooding is caused by neglect of prevention (e.g. a neighbour forgetting to turn off the running water in the bath), neglect of compulsory maintenance (e.g. a burst pipe) or a faulty appliance.

Tip: Carefully document the damage with photos and video. This will be useful as evidence in case of disputes.

How you can defend yourself against flooding by a neighbour

You should inform your neighbour as soon as possible about the fact that your flat has been flooded. If your neighbour is insured for flooding, you will be reimbursed by his/her insurance policy. If your neighbour does not have insurance but you do, the insurance company will pay the compensation and then recover the amount from your neighbour. However, if neither of you has insurance, the process of recovering compensation will be up to you.

Tip: If neither of you is insured, it may be worth getting an agreement drawn up. This should state the nature of the damage and how the damage will be repaired and the cost of repairs paid. This will help you avoid any future disputes. If you have our solicitor draw up the agreement, you are guaranteed that everything will be in order legally and you will have convincing evidence in the event of any problems with payment.

If the neighbour refuses to repair or pay for the damage, you have no choice but to send a pre-action notice and then, if necessary, to take legal action. We will be happy to help you in this situation as well. You can handle all communication with us online or by phone. Once you have uploaded all the relevant documents at your disposal, you will receive a first draft of the solution within 48 hours.

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

Education
  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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