A nuisance isn’t just an annoying person, it is actual a legal concept, one which can be sued upon. In legal terms, a nuisance occurs through the unlawful or unreasonable use of land that causes an injury, or interferes with rights of another person, or the public. In the legal system, tenants and landowners actually possess a legal right to enjoy their property. This right is known as the right of quiet enjoyment. If an activity interferes with this right, this could constitute a legal nuisance.
A nuisance interferes in a person or a community’s enjoyment by causing damages, danger, inconvenience, or annoyance. Thus, nuisances can be sights, sounds, or even smells. For example, if your neighbor is constantly playing obnoxiously loud music throughout all hours of the day, or perhaps a business in your area creates foul smelling odors, these may be actionable legal nuisance claims. Other examples of nuisance claims include barking docks, blocked views, blocked access, piled garbage, and abandoned cars.
A nuisance can be either a public nuisance or a private nuisance. A private nuisance occurs only to a private citizen while a public nuisances affects a greater community. So, in the example of loud music, if you live in an apartment building where the general apartment community is disturbed by the sound, this would be a public nuisance. Whereas, if only on person were bothered by a neighbor’s noisy music, then the nuisance would likely be a private nuisance. Generally though, a private nuisance includes the inference of a property right, while a public nuisance interferes with public health, peace, safety, and convenience.
Furthermore, there are two legal theories under which a nuisance could be tried under in court. These two theories are nuisance in fact and nuisance per se. In a nuisance in fact case, a jury will decide whether an activity is a nuisance by looking at all the surrounding circumstance. In a nuisance per se case, there is no jury, and a judge will decide that the activity or structure is a nuisance just by virtue of its existence. Essentially, it would be a nuisance no matter what the circumstances are. Most nuisance cases are nuisance in fact. If there is a nuisance claim, the plaintiff could be suing for a remedy of money damages and/or an injunction, which requires the activity to stop.
Nuisance cases are typically civil cases and therefore occur in a court with jurisdiction over general civil cases. Depending on the court system of a state or county, you may find nuisance cases in small claims court, or specialized court divisions. Some counties even allow users to review nuisance case information online. Check with CourtReference.com to find out links to online records services and contact information for courts across the US. Nuisance cases could be a great records resource for background checks! Also, if you are the one affected by a nuisance, but are not looking to engage in a legal claim, there are circumstances where you can first file a general complaint with the appropriate officials.