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Law of Nuisance

What is the law of nuisance?

Under many common laws, homeowners or lease holders have the right to enjoy their land in quiet peace. If any neighbor interferes in the owner’s quiet enjoyment of his/her property, either by creating smells, sounds, pollution, or any other hazard that extends beyond the boundaries of the property, the land owner may be able to make a claim regarding the nuisance. There are three different ways that the term nuisance is used; (1) it is described as an activity or condition that is or can be harmful or annoying to other people such as indecent conduct, a rubbish heap, or a smoking chimney; (2) it can be described as the harm that is caused by the previously mentioned actions or conditions such as loud noises or objectionable odors; (3) as a legal liability that may arise from the combination of the two previous mentioned examples, but does not include the stealing of land or trespassing on the land that affect the enjoyment of the owner’s land.

If a person lives in Delaware, in a wooded area and has a neighbor that blows leaves and debris onto the owner’s property, can the neighbor get away with doing this by saying that the leaves come from the owner’s trees?

The neighbor cannot use the excuse that the leaves are from the owner’s trees due to the fact that the people involved cannot tell which of the trees shed the leaves. There are two avenues that the owner can take. The first one would be if the neighbor is placing the leaves back on the property, then the owner can file trespassing against the neighbor, but the owner would need to have no trespassing signs up, and the second is the nuisance charge, which the property owner could do if the neighbor is piling the leaves on the neighbor’s property which hinders the owner’s enjoyment of his/her property.

Would it be considered nuisance if a person lives in an apartment that is no smoking, but has neighbors that smoke on their balcony and the smoke comes into the non-smoker’s apartment causing the person not to be able to enjoy his/her apartment?

The non-smoker can insight the nuisance law and try to find another place to live if the apartment manager is not willing to work with the person. If the smoke is bothering the non-smoker, then he/she would need to get a letter from a doctor stating that he/she is allergic to the second hand smoke, which will help him/her with getting the situation taken care of. The law of nuisance states that if an adjoining property owner is creating a noxious atmosphere on their property that comes over to the property of their neighbors, then the persons affected by this noxious substance / odor can sue the property owner for damages. Since the non-smoker went through all the steps to properly handle the nuisance issue, then he/she may be able to sue the apartment owner for any costs to move.

How can a person break a lease that has 6 months left on it if the construction next door to the person’s apartment prevents them from getting the needed sleep to work overnights?

In most cases a landowner’s rights end at the property line therefore the tenant has certain rights but cannot have more rights than the landowner has. The landlord and tenant may be able to sight the nuisance law if the construction is unreasonably hindering the quiet use of the land. Construction noises that are between the hours of 9pm and 6am might support a nuisance law, but if the construction is during the day, then the tenant really has no rights. So the tenant generally has no rights to break his/her lease due to the construction.

What is a HOA’s responsibility regarding drainage from sump pumps.

In most cases the HOA would be responsible for the drainage if the drainage is on common grounds, but if the drainage is on the owner’s land then it would be the landowner’s responsibility. The law of nuisance would be what takes over in this situation and it would be up to the owner of the land to take care of the nuisance.

When a property owner is hindered by the neighbors from enjoying his/her property, then they can use the nuisance laws to get the offending party to stop the actions that are considered a nuisance. If the people involved are unsure as to their rights, then consulting an Expert would be the first step that he/she would need to make.
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