Altering or Raising Grade of Land; Filling


The owner of a land generally owes a duty of reasonable care to prevent activities and conditions on his or her land from injuring adjoining property and its owners.  A landowner has no right to alter the natural condition of his or her land in a way that deprives the adjoining property owner of the privilege of using his or her own land as he or she might have done before the alteration.  In short, a landowner is under an affirmative duty not to permit his or her land to remain in an altered state that will naturally and foreseeably result in injury to the adjoining property.

Additionally, a land owner also has the duty to keep soil used to raise the level of his or her land off adjoining land.  However, property owners have the right to grade or change the level of their land or to build foundations or embankments provided proper precautions are taken.  Building a retaining wall to prevent soil from spilling upon adjoining land is a commonly used precaution. If necessary, the landowner must build a retaining wall or other structure in order to keep the soil within his or her own line.  In erecting such a wall or other structure the owner should be careful to build it entirely on his or her land.  A property owner cannot use the wall of his or her neighbor’s building, constructed on the division line between the two properties, to support a fill upon his or her own property.  If permitted by law, landowners may blast on their own property but will be liable for damages caused by debris thrown onto adjoining land.