A property nuisance is an unreasonable, unusual, or unnatural use of a person's land, which substantially hurts a second landowner's right to peaceful enjoyment of their land. In certain circumstances, a landowner's emission of noises, lights, or odors can open them up to liability to their neighbors.
When Can a Person be Liable for Noise, Light, or Odor Emissions?
Generally, to prove a nuisance for a neighbor's noise, light, or odor emissions, you will have to prove that:
- Your neighbor is emitting noise, light, or an odor from their land,
- Your neighbor's action unreasonably interferes with your use and enjoyment of your property, and
- You have suffered a material and substantial harm because of your neighbor's actions.
What are Examples of Noise, Light, or Odor Emission Nuisances?
Across America, some examples of cases where a landowner has successfully sued for a neighbor's noise, light, or odor emission include:
- Noise from a racetrack,
- Noise from a music festival,
- Odors from hog or bird farms,
- Noise and odors from a landfill,
- Light from a baseball field,
- Odor from a septic tank,
- Noise and lights from an after-hours club,
- Noise from radio-controlled airplanes,
- Noise from exterior speakers,
- Noise from a shooting range,
- Light from a cell phone tower, and
- Odor and noise from a dog kennel.
Are There Any Defenses?
There are several ways to defend against a lawsuit for emitting noises, lights, or odors. A few examples are:
- The activity is lawful or reasonable,
- The injured neighbor came to the noise, light, or odor emission,
- The neigbor causing the nuisance was not negligent,
- There are alternative or contributing causes for the nuisance,
- The injured neighbor is abnormally sensitive to the noise, light, or odor emissions, or
- The injured neighbor is themselves negligent.
What is Recoverable in a Lawsuit for a Neighbor's Noise, Light, or Odor Emissions?
Generally, in a successful lawsuit against a nuisance from a neighbor's noise, light, or odor emission, you can recover:
- An abatement of the nuisance (to stop it),
- Damages, including compensatory and future damages, and/or
- Fees associated with stopping the nuisance.
Do I Need an Attorney to Handle a Nuisance From a Neighbor's Noise, Light, or Odor Emissions?
If you are being affected by your neighbor's noise, light, or odor emissions, or you are being sued by a neighbor for your emissions, it is highly recommended that you contact a personal injury or property attorney. Only they will be able to fully explain the issues to you and help defend your rights.