Do I Have Any Rights to the Air Above My Property or the Surface Below?
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Equally as important as the landowner’s right to subjacent support is the landowner’s right to lateral support of land in its natural state. Land in its natural state is land without any structures on it or changes to its natural existence. Lateral support means support from adjacent land, or land that is "next to" your property. Again, let’s use some examples to illustrate this concept more clearly.

Scenario #1

First, let’s pretend that you have a neighbor who begins digging a deep hole on his property to install an in-ground pool. This is an excavation. If your neighbor digs a very deep hole, or if he or she digs a hole too close to your property line, your land could be more vulnerable to subsiding. In other words, your land could lack the adjacent (i.e. side) support needed to remain in its natural state. If your neighbor’s excavation does cause your land to cave in (like a landslide), then your neighbor will be liable to you for damages, regardless of how careful he or she was trying to be.

Scenario #2

Now, using the same set of facts in Scenario #1, let’s say that in addition to your land caving in, the garage that you had built upon your land also caved in, destroying it completely. In this situation, your neighbor would still be liable for causing your land to subside, but he or she would only be liable for your garage if you can prove that the land would have collapsed even without the garage built on it. In other words, it would have collapsed in its "natural state."

Scenario #3

For this scenario, let’s combine the first two scenarios, only this time, your land caved in because your neighbor was negligent in the excavation. For example, let’s say that your local building codes dictate that one may only dig a hole on his or her property that is no more than eleven (11) feet deep (remember, this is purely hypothetical). In our scenario, if your neighbor dug a hole that was deeper than 11 feet, then he or she would be liable for both the damage to your land AND the damage caused to the garage you had built on your property, EVEN IF your land would not have subsided without the garage built on it.

Next, we’ll discuss the remedies that you have as a landowner.

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