Articles 979 and following of the Civil Code of Quebec regulate the issue of water.
It all begins with the statement of principle of article 979 of the Civil Code of Québec, which states that:
“979. Lower land is subject to receiving water flowing onto it naturally from higher land.
The owner of lower land has no right to erect works to prevent the natural flow. The owner of higher land has no right to aggravate the condition of lower land, and is not presumed to do so if he carries out work to facilitate the natural run-off or, where his land is devoted to agriculture, he carries out drainage work.”
The Superior Court had to address the issue in Brisson v. Habib, 2016 QCCS 5678. In that case, the plaintiffs complained of significant water accumulation on their property due to a bypass ditch built by the owners of the higher land. The effect of the ditch was to divert the path of the natural flow of surface water to the plaintiffs’ property.
Furthermore, it appears that the ditch had been dug mechanically, which had altered the natural state of the site.
In the circumstances, the Court issued an injunction forcing the defendants to perform the work required to stop the surface water from flowing over the plaintiffs’ building. The court also ordered the defendants to pay damages.
Moreover, it should be remembered that article 983 of the Civil Code of Québec specifies that
“roofs are required to be built in such a manner that water, snow and ice fall on the owner’s land.”
Finally, it is important to remember that cities and towns have the power to pass by-laws and that it is always a good idea to check with municipal services before undertaking any work.