Do you experience surface flooding and puddles around your property and yard due to your neighbour’s water runoff? Water runoff after rain events can cause trouble for your property. This is made worse when the surface runoff is coming from your neighbour’s property. Have you ever asked yourself where does the water runoff go?
Backyard flooding can be addressed with the installation of stormwater pits, pipes and drains, but who should pay for the cost when it is coming from your neighbour?
Flooding Due to Neighbour’s Surface Water Runoff
If you’re downhill from a neighbour or any construction, you may experience water runoff entering your property. This may be historic or be the result of recent alterations at your neighbour’s property. It’s important to manage stormwater on your land to avoid damaging your neighbour’s property as well as your own. You are responsible for maintaining stormwater pipes, gutters, downpipes, gully pits and any other components of a drainage system related to your house or any other structure on the premises.
Generally, the law requires all owners to address their own water needs and restricts any development from increasing the natural flow to their neighbour. To avoid damaging your own or a neighbour’s property, you must make sure that your property’s stormwater system is connected to a legal point of discharge. This can be either to the public drainage system (including kerb and gutter) or an inter-allotment drainage system (within dedicated easements).
If stormwater is running onto your property from a neighbour’s property this is considered by most Councils as a private matter. As with most neighbourhood issues, the best result is achieved by discussion and negotiation with your neighbour. Drains and diversion paths in both your property and your neighbours are likely to be the best outcome.
Surface Runoff Due to New Development
If the runoff is associated with a new development, you can talk to the Builder, the Certifier and/or Council as increasing the water flow is likely to be a breach of approval conditions.
You will need to document the issues and present a case that the development is causing the impact.
When to Get Council Involved?
Whilst Councils are reluctant to get involved in neighbourhood issues, they do have the responsibility under the Local Government Act (LG Act) and are often the only party that can bring a resolution across several neighbours.
Under section 124 of the Local Government Act 1993, a local council has the power to issue an order to the owner or occupier of that property to take action to remedy the flow.
Expect Council to advise that it is not their responsibility on first communication with them. But that doesn’t mean you can’t escalate it to your local Councillors as an issue. The Councillors can get the staff to help resolve issues.
Stormwater Sydney Assistance
Stormwater Sydney can, on a consultancy basis, assist homeowners with documenting and managing their disputes. These services are undertaken on a “do and charge” basis providing stormwater management services. Any services provided do not include Engineering or Legal
advice. Stormwater Sydney does have providers that can assist with those services if required.
When the dispute is purely between yourself and your neighbour, there are still avenues for you to pursue. There are numerous legal approaches to disputes. Legislation such as the Conveyancing Act makes it the responsibility of the resident to ensure that their home has a stormwater system that is well maintained and properly connected to the wider stormwater system. This and other paths will require the advice of legal professionals. Depending on the issue, the NSW Fair Trading and NCAT might be able to provide either a mediation or enforcement mechanism. Ultimately, orders might be sought from the Land and Environment Court of the Supreme Court of New South Wales.
Assistance can include:
• 15-30min phone consultation
• Site inspection and report
• Documentation of water runoff and stormwater issues
• Preparation of dispute history and documentation to support legal or NCAT referral
• Provision of Certificates of Compliance under AS3500
• Provision of Expert Witness (All water issues)
• Provision of Rectification reports (All water issues)
You can expect that such assistance will be charged upwards of $280* per hour, with Engineers and Lawyers significantly more. If you can sort it out with your neighbour, it might be a lot cheaper.
Should you require further information, we can be contacted through our website.
Disclaimer: This information is for general in nature, provided guidance only and may not be applicable to your situation. You should contact Stormwater Sydney for advice on your specific situation or gain professional advice from a Practicing Engineer or Legal Practitioner.
Reference Material on Stormwater and Disputes
- Stormwater – Australian Government – https://www.yourhome.gov.au/water/stormwater
- Stormwater Library Links – Stormwater NSW – https://stormwaternsw.asn.au/resources/external-links/
- Find Legal Answers – State Library NSW – https://legalanswers.sl.nsw.gov.au/neighbours-and-law/water
- Nuisance Caused by Water (Corbett v Pallas NSW Court of Appeal 23 March 1995) – http://classic.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/AUConstrLawNlr/1996/33.pdf
- Private Nuisance – Environmental Defenders Office – https://www.edo.org.au/publication/private-nuisance-in-nsw/
- Easements and Section 88K – Watson and Watson – https://watsonandwatson.com.au/service-23/easements-access-right-of-way-and-s88k
- Understanding Easements in Your Property Contract – Somerville Laundry Lomax (NSW) – https://sll.com.au/legal-news/understanding-easements-in-your-property-contract/
- A Public Guide to Managing Stormwater Drainage on Residential Properties – Catchments and Creeks – https://www.catchmentsandcreeks.com.au/docs/Public-Guide-to-Stormwater-Drainage-print.pdf
Flooding or Water Flooding From your Neighbours Property, what can you do? – Scanlan Carroll (Vic) – https://www.scanlancarroll.com.au/news/flooding-or-water-flow-from-your-neighbours-property-what-can-you-do/