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Lateral and Subjacent Support Lawyers

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What Is Lateral Support?

Lateral property support entitles a landowner to the right of not having their neighbor excavate land that might cause damage to surrounding property. It is the right of all landowners to have their land upheld by its neighboring lands without any slippage, cave-ins, or landslides.

All landowners who intend to improve or excavate their properties must do the following conditions before excavation:

  • Landowner must give reasonable notice to adjoining and neighboring lands that they are doing excavation and how deep the excavation will be
  • Landowners must ensure that proper care and skill is used to preserve all adjoining lands in its natural state

The excavating landowner is not required to support any buildings or structures that are on adjoining land. If there were any damage to any existing buildings or structures on the adjoining lands, the excavating neighbor would be liable if the excavation was done in a negligent manner.

What Is Subjacent Support?

Subjacent support exists when two adjoining lands are above and below each other and the right of the surface land is to be supported by the land that is under the subsidence. All surface landowners have the right to have their land remain in the natural state without any disruption of support by adjoining neighboring lands. If the subjacent land collapses because of a neighboring land’s excavation or construction, then the neighbor is liable even if he was not negligent and did not intend to cause any damage.


What Can I Do If My Neighbor Is Excavating Property?

Landowners that have experienced or fear experiencing dramatic changes in the support of their property have several options.  These options include:

  • Injunctions : An injunction is a court order that will prevent your neighbor from continuing their excavation because of fear of what damages it may cause on your property.  Injunctions can be obtained by going to a courthouse nearby and requesting a hearing. 
  • Contact Your Local Planning Board : A local planning board might refuse to grant a permit for excavation based on the dangerous impact it might have upon your property. 
  • Contact Your State Land and Natural Resources Department 

What If an Adjacent Owner Constructs a Building?

Generally, an adjacent property owner that constructs a building will not be liable for damage to your property unless he acted negligently. As long as the adjoining land is supported, the excavating landowner will not be liable to any damage that occurs to any buildings or structures because of the excavation. If damage to the building occurs, the excavating landowner has the burden to prove that the weight of the neighbor’s structure or building was the cause of the damage and not because of the excavation.

What Should I Do If My Neighbor Is Mining?

Property owners that have neighbors mining or doing work underground have a right to subjacent support.  This means a property owner has a right not to have their land subside from beneath them because of mining. Seeking an injunction or contacting local planning authorities is the best course of action.

Should I Contact a Lawyer If My Support Is Threatened?

An experienced real estate attorney may be able to help you determine the best course of action against any potential lateral or subjacent support issues.  A real property lawyer also can help you obtain an injunction or represent you in a planning commission hearing.

Photo of page author Kourosh Akhbari

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 10-01-2014 12:11 PM PDT

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