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This is a collection of answers to questions about property boundaries, land surveys, and property owner rights submitted by people like you.

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What can I do about water draining onto my land?


A: Storm water runoff from adjacent properties is a common occurrence that can result in flooding of yards, sheds and basements. If your property experienced no excessive water issues previously, then it is possible that a neighbour has affected local drainage by adding fill dirt, blocked or filled in a drainage swale or diverted roof drainage downspouts so that excess storm water now spills onto your property. Water does not respect land boundaries—but the law does.

Court rulings hold that a property owner has the right to protect their property from uphill surface runoff. In a newer subdivision, you may need to investigate if your neighbour’s grading conforms to the grading plans approved as part of the subdivision registration. Neighbours who intend to change the grading on their property must submit a grading plan to the local municipality for approval. The grading plan must include a drainage plan that shows how they will divert their storm water to a legal discharge location. The drainage plans should not affect or require access to your property (without an easement) so it is important to be aware of your land boundaries.

The City of Toronto will investigate an infraction under the Municipal Code if discharge from a downspout or swimming pool is draining onto your land. The City’s health unit will be concerned about mosquitoes breeding in standing water, rotting retaining walls and tree health that can be affected by excess water over root structures. Many issues are considered a civil matter.

If communicating with your neighbour about the drainage problem produces no results, you may need to consult a lawyer. Engaging a surveyor can help by determining the grades on both properties, and confirming the ground slope and areas of ponding in relation to the property boundaries and on whose property features lie. A Topographic Plan may be needed to assist your lawyer, engineer or municipality to analyze the grades and elevations and solve the drainage problem.