What to do if my elderly parents have a neighbor that is making wood furniture to sell and daily operates commercial-grade hand-held powered tools day and night?

The neighbor works less than 25 feet from their home and the excessive noise emitted from these devices is frequent, continuous and can be heard clearly inside of their home. I have amicably approached their neighbor and they have moved the work area back a few feet, but the noise is still plainly audible inside their home at different times throughout the day. The noise truly disturbs the quiet, comfort, and peacefulness of their home and property. There are no neighborhood restrictions. Other than building a high fence, what rights do my parents have?

Asked on November 11, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Louisiana

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Your parents can sue the neighbor for nuisance.  Nuisance is an unreasonable interference with the use or enjoyment of their property. 

Damages (monetary compensation) are an inadequate remedy in a lawsuit for nuisance because land is unique and also multiplicity of lawsuits due to the noise continuing.

Since damages are an inadequate remedy, your parents should seek an injunction, which is an equitable remedy.  A court will balance the benefits and burdens to the parties in determining whether or not to grant an injunction.  The benefit to your parents of not being disturbed by the noise will be balanced against the burden to their neighbor of either the cost of  noise abatement measures or lost income from not operating the business out of his home.  The court may grant a temporary restraining order which will be in effect until a preliminary hearing.  At the preliminary hearing, the court may issue a preliminary injunction which will be in effect until trial at which time the court will determine whether to issue a permanent injunction.

Another issue to consider here apart from the injunction is whether or not the neighbor is violating a zoning ordinance.  Although you said there aren't any neighborhood restrictions, there may be an applicable zoning ordinane prohibiting a commercial business from operating in a residential area.  The city attorney could tell you whether or not there is an applicable zoning ordinance which may prohibit the neighbor's business from operating in a residential area.


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