Everyone has the right to use and enjoy their own property. Inevitably, though, one person's use of their property infringes on another person's enjoyment of their own. Resolving these neighbor disputes is the realm of nuisance law.
There are 2 types of nuisances:
- Private nuisances
- Public nuisances
The vast majority of nuisance claims are for private nuisance. However, the attorneys at the Katz Law Group help people deal with both in Massachusetts.
What is a Private Nuisance?
A private nuisance is a property condition or an activity that, while it does not constitute a physical trespass, is substantial and unreasonable enough to impair someone else's enjoyment of their own property.
Some activities that can amount to a private nuisance may include:
- Shining a light into a neighbor's bedroom
- Playing extremely loud music at night
- Shooting off fireworks
- Heavy vehicle traffic
- Loud and constant industrial or business noises, like loading and unloading trucks or rock blasting
Some property conditions that can amount to a private nuisance can include:
- The release of noxious chemicals into the air in neighbors' property
- Bad odors from a farm
- Creating a tourist attraction that draws heavy traffic, like an elaborate Christmas display
- Letting property dilapidate until it has become an eyesore
- Collecting items on the property in order to harass or annoy neighbors
Property owners are not the only people who can suffer from a private nuisance. Depending on the circumstances, nuisance claims can also be filed by:
- Owners out of possession of the property
However, Massachusetts has a high standard for what amounts to a “substantial and unreasonable” use of property. Minor inconveniences do not amount to a private nuisance.
Generally, Massachusetts nuisance law compares the severity of the nuisance to neighbors with the utility of the activity to the property owner. If the activity is annoying, but also fundamental to the property owner's livelihood, it can be difficult to prove that it is a nuisance. When the property owner acts solely to annoy his or her neighbor, it is an unreasonable use of property that is often a nuisance.
What is a Public Nuisance in Massachusetts?
A public nuisance is a use of property that negatively impacts the rights of the general public, rather than a private person. Examples include:
- Blocking a public roadway
- Dumping chemicals into a waterway or river
- Releasing air pollutants that cause respiratory problems
Many of these public nuisances violate environmental and other health and safety laws. Public nuisances are usually dealt with by enforcing those laws, rather than by filing a nuisance claim in court.
Compensation Available for Victims
People suffering from a neighbor's unreasonable conduct can file a nuisance claim. This often begins with a cease and desist letter. If the annoyance does not stop, it can turn into a lawsuit that may go all the way to trial.
If successful, victims of the nuisance can get:
- A court order that abates, or stops, the nuisance
- Compensation for the nuisance
- Punitive damages, if the annoyance was severe and deliberate
Massachusetts Nuisance Law Attorneys at the Katz Law Group
The lawyers at the Katz Law Group help victims of nuisances in Marlborough, Framingham, and Worcester, as well as in Norfolk and Middlesex Counties. Call their law office at (508) 480-8202 or contact them online.