What is a “Nuisance”?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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A nuisance is something that causes offense, interruption of enjoyment, annoyance, or possible trouble, damage, or injury. It is commonly classified as a public or private nuisance.

Understanding Nuisance Laws

A public nuisance is one that unlawfully interferes with the rights, comfort, or safety of others, perhaps by creating a disturbance in a public area, blocking a public sidewalk, or performing other behaviors that disturb the welfare of people in the area.

A private nuisance is anything that specifically affects the comfort, enjoyment, peace, safety, or welfare of specific individuals. This does not necessarily mean the nuisance is intended or directed at those people. It can include noisy neighbors whose property is near you, or poorly maintained yards on your block that attract mice and therefore affect your own enjoyment of your property.

Each state handles nuisance claims differently. Before escalating to a court case, consider certified letters, conversations with landlords, and calls to the police. Make sure you keep records and proof of your attempts to remedy the problem should you later decide to go to court. You will need evidence to prove your claim, show that the nuisance would have been a problem for a reasonable person, and that you suffered damages from the disturbance.

If you believe you have a nuisance claim and you decide to handle it in court, it is in your best interest to consult an attorney who can provide you with advice in taking the proper steps to handle your claim.

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