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Nuisance – Explained

16. What is “Nuisance”?

Nuisance is the use of one’s property in a manner that creates a substantial, unreasonable interference with the use or enjoyment of another person’s property.

•    Public Nuisance – Public nuisance arises from use of land that causes a substantial interference with the use and enjoyment of the property by the public at large.

⁃    Example: Pollution from a factory that affects an entire neighborhood or town may constitute a public nuisance.

•    Private Nuisance – Private nuisance arises when a person uses her property to substantially interfere with the use and enjoyment of another person’s property.

⁃    Example: Allowing your dog to bark and disturb your neighbor could constitute a private nuisance.

•    Discussion: How do you feel about a nuisance action as a method of enforcing one’s property rights? How should the court balance the rights of one landowner versus those of another? Should there be public laws broadly targeting nuisance, such as criminal actions for general nuisance? Why or why not?

•    Practice Question: Evelyn buys a home in a small neighborhood. Since moving in, her neighbor Derek has been extremely rude to her. Specifically, Derek sent her an email asking that she avoiding allowing her home to become a gaudy, eye sore in the neighborhood. Evelyn, ever the feisty one, is very angry about the email. She decides to paint a largely smiley face sticking out its tongue on the side of her house facing Derek’s house. Derek is outraged by Evelyn’s actions. What are Derek’s options in this situation?

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