Understanding Private Nuisance Claims in California
In California, private nuisance in a legal sense is said to occur when a party engages in disruptive behavior, which interferes or obstructs another individual’s use and enjoyment of the property.
You have the right to take the at-fault party to court if they infringe on your ability and rights to enjoy your home or any other private property. Private nuisance claims can be complicated, however. A committed real estate attorney in California can help you determine whether you have a claim and the legal steps to take.
Definition of Private Nuisance in California
Property owners are typically entitled to reasonable enjoyment and use of their own property. Taking this into account, when the actions of another party interferes with the rights of a property owner to enjoy their property, that interference may be deemed as a private nuisance.
Under California Civil Code Section 3479 private nuisance is defined as, “Anything which is injurious to health, including, but not limited to, the illegal sale of controlled substances, or is indecent or offensive to the senses, or an obstruction to the free use of property, so as to interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property…”
The law categorizes private nuisance into nuisances per se and nuisances per accidens. In general, a per se nuisance will involve an activity that is prohibited or regulated by statute. For instance, a junkyard that is not operated as per local and state laws and interferes with the way a neighbor can use their land may be considered per se nuisance.
Nuisance per accidens is an unreasonable interference or use of property based on surrounding circumstances.
Common Examples of Private Nuisance Claims in California
Private nuisance lawsuits in California typically involve disputes against prior property owners or between neighbors. These are a few circumstances that give rise to private nuisance claims under California state law:
- Injurious to health: Private nuisance that is considered injurious to health can include garbage, waste, and dangerous material. This can be in the form of dangerous waste from manufacturing, diseased or dead animals, and any other condition that can cause illness or disease.
- Illegal sale of controlled substances: Property used for the sale of drugs, fire hazards, or any other illegally sold substances can present a danger to neighboring occupants. This is also a violation of other California Health and Safety codes.
- Indecent or offensive to the senses: This type of private nuisance includes smells, sights, and sounds. It doesn’t necessarily need to be dangerous or harmful. An offensive nuisance may include smoke, vibrations, and loud music.
- Obstruction to the free use of property: This generally involves placing a physical barrier or employing ways of preventing a property owner from using their own property.
It’s critical to understand the difference between the type of actions that can constitute a private nuisance and those that cannot. For instance, blocking sunlight is not generally considered a private nuisance.
A qualified real estate attorney can evaluate your situation to determine whether it qualifies for a private nuisance claim or not. Having a seasoned attorney on your side improves the likelihood of winning a favorable resolution, including damages.
Elements of a Private Nuisance Lawsuit in California
You may want to consider suing under the legal theory of trespass if the intrusion is physical. If trespass laws don’t apply and a property owner is still dealing with interference, they may turn towards the theory of private nuisance.
Plaintiffs are typically required to prove the following elements:
- You own the land or have the right to possess the property
- The defendant acted in a manner that interferes with your use and enjoyment of the property
- The defendant’s actions were unreasonable and substantial
It’s essential to understand the elements of a private nuisance claim in California for determining whether the claim is valid or not.
Damages Available in A Private Nuisance Lawsuit
The type of harm caused and whether the nuisance is ongoing play an important role in determining the availability and extent of damages available through a private nuisance lawsuit. Available relief generally includes:
- Monetary damages for loss of value
- Monetary damages based on annoyance, discomfort, and emotional distress
- Injunctive relief
Injunctive relief may be sought for a nuisance that is continuing in nature. The court may order the defendant to refrain from doing something or take action that makes the property more suitable to use.
You may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit in addition to the private nuisance claim if the actions or inactions cause physical harm or injury to the plaintiff. Compensatory damages available in a personal injury claim include:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
Talk to a Skilled and Knowledgeable Private Nuisance Claims Attorney – Book Your Free Consultation Today
The attorneys at Peterson, Martin & Reynolds LLP have helped numerous clients successfully file private nuisance claims and deter the at-fault parties. Our reputable real estate attorneys have extensive knowledge and experience in this area of law.
To set up your complimentary consultation, call (415) 849-2564 or reach us online.