Landlord next door says my roof causes his roof damage

110 Replies

Recently, the owner/landlord of the duplex next to mine reached out to me. He informed me that he recently did repairs to his roof and that apparently two roofers said that the pitch of my roof is channeling a large amount of rain water onto his roof.

Most of the roofs on these buildings are flat, including his. At some point in time before I purchased my property, the roof was modified to be pitched. Both my building and the one next to it had the same previous owner.

I've included the pictures he sent, which is just a view from the ground. I was expecting/hoping for photos of the actual apparent problem from the roof.

I don't know much about roofs, but even if they are flat, shouldn't they be graded to send water away so it doesn't pool? Also, it seems that there is a gutter at the end of the pitch, which would send water away.

Am I responsible for this? He hasn't directly said what he wants yet, but I think it's a bit unreasonable if he is asking me to change my roof back to flat. He didn't seem to notice any of this a year ago when he purchased.

From my untrained eye your building on the left used to put it into a downspout on your side but the modification looks to be sending it to your neighbors side downspout and would think he may have a legit beef.  If his roof was designed to take X amount of water and now he is getting X times 1 1/2 then his roof and downspout may have excess water which could cause damage...

Yeah, looks like you're sending half the water from your roof onto his. I'd get a box of nice pastries, some good coffee, sit down with him & get this worked out immediately before it gets realllllllly ugly.

Okay, he finally sent a photo from the roof itself.

So, I see there is a gutter, just as I suspected. I see the hole in the side there where I'm guessing the gutter goes down the side of the building. Perhaps there needs to be more gutter going directly into that hole?

I still don't see how that causes the standing water further to the left on his roof. If it's from my "run off", and it's just sitting there, then his roof is not graded properly. I'm not seeing how that would be any different than water falling directly from the sky.

Also, he never seemed to notice this during his inspections. I'm willing to help, but I'm not modifying my entire roof that was pre-existing. 

Exactly - sit down with him.  On your own, make a quiet inquiry into the work done on your place previously and ascertain whether it was permitted or not or even whether a permit was needed.  It looks like they the gable in brick was originak and then came back in later and modified the roof...probably because the small flat roof sections on either side was causing a water leak problem to both buildings.  Flat roofs are always a headache...just a master of when.  I would also have some check the return on your right side and the downspout to see that it is free from obstructions & debris....can't tell from the picture what it is even draining at this point?  Any  idea how long ago the changes were made?

So I guess just potentially some easy gutter work should fix his problem. It still doesn't fix the fact that rainwater seems to stand on his roof quite a ways from my roof.

I don't know exactly when, but I believe that roof modification was done roughly 10 years ago if I remember correctly what the previous owner told me.

The standing water are soft spots in his roof.  You should be ok, meaning as long as a permits was pulled for your roof add on. I would check on this with a code enforcer.

 It looks to me that your roof is encroaching onto his. 

You have a significant problem. A slanted roof is meant to send water off your roof, not onto the roof of a neighbor. Whomever did this work didn't do this with your neighbor in mind. I would suggest hiring a roofer to build some sort of gutter system to disallow water from your roof from getting on your neighbors roof. Otherwise, your neighbor has a legitimate beef. I wouldnt suggest discussing this with him either. Just do the gutter system, take pictures, let the neighbor know when done, move on with your life.

Account Closed There is a gutter in place (see the pic of the rooftop itself above).
This Saturday, I'm having a roofer or two come look. I asked this owner for permission for my roofers to potentially be on his roof, and of course, his answer was "possibly, but I may want to be present". This guy is really becoming a pain in my rear. Meanwhile, I have no idea if his roofers were on my roof or not during their work (since he wants to be picky).

Secondly, when I asked him specifically where the damage was that my roof apparently caused, his answer was "basically, the entire roof". NO. I'm sorry, NO. The entire roof? I remember viewing the inside of his property when it was still for sale. There is a skylight in the upstairs unit located no where near the firewall that shares my property and it was leaking. There were also water spots in the kitchen. His roof has had issues for a while.

Also, I need to look at other end units. They all seem to have a pitched roof on the end units. Perhaps they were built this way. I will look into this further.

the issues he has with his roof are not necessarily caused by your roof, if water is penetrating his roof, doesn't matter if its a little or a lot of water coming onto his roof. Again, i would suggest you fix your gutter system (if not already) by pro roofer. He wants to imply his damage is caused by your roof, give him your attorneys phone number and dont speak to him again

Looks to me like your roof has been extended across the property line to dump water onto his roof.  I suspect he could do a survey to determine exactly where the property line is and take a chainsaw and cut off the part of your roof that crosses the line.  And there would be nothing you could do.  If I were you I would be very conciliatory in working with this guy.  Just based on these pictures he has a very legitimate complaint and you have little ground to stand on.

And, yes, all the extra water from your roof, which from your pictures appears to be getting directed onto his roof could cause problems for his entire roof.  That extra water load wouldn't have been accounting for in designing his roof, so may not be getting carried off effectively.

Now, should he have sorted this out before buying?  Perhaps.  But it would just have been the former owner in his shoes coming after you.

Have you looked through your deeds and paperwork to see if there was some sort of easement for the encroachment?  If, as you think, the buildings were originally built this way perhaps something was put in place to allow your roof to encroach on his property and for the water to be diverted onto his roof.  If so, you might have an out and it would be his problem to fix his roof to accommodate your water. 

But if your roof was modified at some point to extend onto his property and dump water onto his roof and it was done without that owners knowledge and written permission I think you may have a problem.

You seem to be getting too emotional about this.  Your roof is obviously dropping water onto his, the question it legal or not...and even if it is do you want to deal with a ticked off neighbor till the end of time.

Nicole it might be best to get  a litigation attorney at least for a consult. They can give you insight you might not have thought of.

There are many components to flat roof systems. Are there any other pitched roofs on your street or are they all flat?? If your roof was changed at some point was it permitted and approved??

Take emotion out of this and stick to the facts. Start from the beginning. The other persons roof does look like it would get a lot of extra water runoff from your roof. The roof itself they have does look old with patch jobs. There are multiple issues going on with if it did cause damage how much of it is from your excess water runoff and how much is from them having an old roof that is failing??

This can get very ugly quick. No legal advice.


Honestly, it looks like he has a point.  And if it was m roof, I would certainly want to be there while your roofers were standing on it.  As for his roofers, there would have been no need for them to stand on your pitched roof instead of his flat one. 

I understand you are dealing with bad news, but I don't see where he is saying anything unreasonable in any of what you have posted.

you might not like what we are telling you, but it is what it is... his flat roof will have issues on his own anyway, but your modified "pitch and dump" is exacerbating his problem.

get a roofer and a gutter guy there and talk to them when both are there with you. then all 4 of you talk about what needs to be done.

otherwise, the judge will just tell you to fix it.

Yes, I know I'm showing my frustration here on this forum, but I have not shown any via our email correspondence.

I personally don't see where some of you are seeing that my pitched roof is dumping water onto his. There is a gutter system in place at the bottom of that pitch that you can see in the last photo I posted. The gutter itself might need work. But the roof is not designed to just dump water onto his roof.

I will see what my two different roofers suggest this Saturday, go from there, and not talk too much to this guy if he does indeed show up in person. I will keep in mind what you've said about possibly getting an attorney in line.

Also keep in mind that even if none of the damage was caused by your roof, if the changes to your roof were unpermitted, your toast.  So find out whether you have a leg to stand on, first.  If your changes were not permitted, you are going to need to swallow your pride and do whatever it takes to settle this.

Yes, I'm also asking the roofers how difficult and the cost to just "cut" back the roof to the firewall.

That way it wouldn't "encroach" his roof any more....yet the same design would still be there, apparently dumping water onto his roof. So I'm honestly not sure how that'd change anything, but if it's the encroachment that makes him upset, then fine. I'll see what happens Saturday.

@Nicole W. 

How long have you owned this property?

I am wondering if you have legal recourse against the seller for encroachment.

Based on all 3 pictures, it appears that your brown downspout is routed through the brick of the other house.  That is insane if it wasn't mutually agreed upon by both prior owners.  If it was agreed upon, then that is an easement and not an encroachment. 

Account Closed 

 Yup, that is because the prior owner used to own both of these buildings.

Originally posted by @Nicole W.:

@David R. 

 Yup, that is because the prior owner used to own both of these buildings.

I hope those that have previously commented are still following this thread.  In my non-legal opinion, the fact that you just shared should be proof that there is no encroachment. 

I would think that the prior owner in effect created an easement when he decided to alter his properties in such a manner.  I also would think you and your neighbor would have recourse against the seller if he/she did not disclose the easement in your sales agreements.

I would love to read what a real estate lawyer has to say on this matter.

Frankly, I doubt the previous owner did anything regarding easements or permits even. He owned them both and just did what he wanted. As annoying and frustrating as this is, I do realize that I will have to do something...and that something may be to cut back the roof to the firewall. While it definitely doesn't change the design, this current owner seems to just want the roof back to the firewall. The gutters of course will stay at the end and direct water properly. There is no dumping of water and won't be.

Nicole, how long have you owned the property?

Personally, I would not spend a dime on the roof without consulting with an attorney. 

Does your neighbor know that both properties had the same prior owner?  Perhaps if he understands that the seller created this problem, he will direct his frustration toward the prior owner and not you.

I have owned the property since August 2012. This guy purchased the next door roughly a year later? Perhaps a bit less.

He does know that both properties have the same prior owner.

Regarding not spending money on the roof without consulting an attorney....which would be more cost effective? Do they typically charge a lot for consultations? I have no idea what to expect and want to try and reduce money going out.

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