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Neighbor disputes: What is a private nuisance?

On Behalf of | Jun 27, 2023 | Real Estate Law

To a reasonable extent, homeowners generally have the right to enjoy their property and use it as they please. If your neighbors engage in behavior and activities that infringe on this right, you might be able to take legal action by citing private nuisance.

A “private nuisance” is often an unreasonable or unlawful thing, action and behavior that disrupts your ability to enjoy your property. California law generally recognizes the following as characteristics of a private nuisance.

It is injurious to your health.

For instance, your neighbor could leave substances that may cause injuries or illnesses close to your property, such as garbage, medical waste and sick or dead animals.

It involves the illegal sale of controlled substances.

Your neighbor could be selling drugs and drug-related ingredients, fire hazards and other dangerous substances on their property.

It is offensive to your senses.

A private nuisance does not have to pose a physical danger to you. Noxious smells, loud sounds, bright lights and strong vibrations might qualify as private nuisances.

It prevents you from freely using your property.

An example is if your neighbor erects a fence or plants a hedge covering a walkway to your home, limiting your access to your property.

However, not everything your neighbor does that annoys you qualifies as a private nuisance. For example, your neighbor planting tall trees that prevent sunlight from going to your home might not qualify as a private nuisance unless they did so with malicious intent.

There are neighbor disputes that you can only resolve with the court’s intervention, but such cases often require a strong grasp of the law. If you are in a complex neighbor dispute, an experienced real estate lawyer can help you build a solid case and uphold your rights as a property owner.