Q: Who’s responsible for property damage when a hillside is collapsing? The neighbors behind us moved in two years ago and when they did I asked them to please remove the giant slabs of concrete that were sitting on top of the hill on the edge of the property. Our yard sits probably 10 feet below theirs. Well the slabs have slid down the hill side as I knew they would, collapsing the hillside into my wooden privacy fence causing damage. Who is legally responsible to stabilize the hill and fixing my fence, us or them?
A: I would have to research the duty of a landowner to prevent a condition on his property that damages neighboring property to give you a proper answer. The last time I looked at this was in 2008 and I did find case law on this issue. My recollection is that such a duty does exist, if certain conditions are met. If you engage a lawyer, it will cost you. Your first step should be to contact the city or borough code enforcement officer and see if he or she can help. This might be a code violation of some sort and perhaps the neighbor could be cited, which would or should case him to remedy the condition.