What is a private nuisance?
When it comes to using your private property, you typically assume that anything you chose to do on it is fair game.
However, if someone’s actions interfere with your peace or safety, then he or she may face potential legal repercussions.
What it is
According to FindLaw, a private nuisance occurs when the usage of your land for an event or action interferes with the privacy or safety of someone else. This person is typically a next-door neighbor, because unlike a public nuisance, the amount of people affected is generally smaller in scope.
These actions may be outright illegal, or even just irritating, depending on the severity of the action. Examples of nuisances include smoke coming from fires started in pits, noises from gatherings, or contamination of nearby water.
Elements of a case
The other party has the right to use his or her land, except in a manner that interferes with the your enjoyment of your land. The incident must also be real and significant, as well as unreasonable. If any of these elements are not present in a claim, then it may not fit the legal definition of a private nuisance.
Ordinary person test
Although strong odors and overly bright lights may cause confusion and irritation, they must be significant enough to cause a serious disturbance. Petty acts typically do not count as private nuisances.
How much harm the victim suffered also plays into the seriousness of the case. In order to measure how severe a case is, judges will determine if the nuisance harms an ordinary person. However, this standard does not take into account any unique factors, such as someone with a sensitivity to smells or flashing lights.