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Is your neighbour affecting the way you use and enjoy your land?
Perhaps the way they use their land is making it difficult for you to enjoy the time you spend at home; or maybe their activities are damaging your house, buildings or land in some way?
If so, you may be able to bring a legal action for nuisance. There are 2 types of nuisance – private nuisance and public nuisance.
What is a nuisance?
In law, nuisance has a more specific meaning than in everyday speech. Whereas we usually think of a nuisance as a minor annoyance or frustration, legal nuisance can be a much more serious issue. A nuisance can have a major effect on your life and property.
A private nuisance is an interference with a person’s enjoyment and use of their land. Some examples include:
- Flooding, pollution, or contamination from your neighbour’s land, causing damage or health risks
- Excessive noise
- Unpleasant smells
- Encroachment onto your land – for example by tree roots or branches
If you have experienced any of these situations or any other situation that is causing you a nuisance then you should talk to your neighbour. If this does not resolve the issue, you may have to take legal action to enforce your rights.
How serious does a nuisance have to be?
Generally speaking, you have legal rights which allow you to use and enjoy your land as you wish. Your neighbour will have similar rights over their land. If these rights clash, the law will look at what use and enjoyment is reasonable, and whether it unreasonably affects another person’s use and enjoyment of their land. This can be a tricky issue to resolve.
Considering what is reasonable often involves looking at many factors, such as:
- The area you live in
- How frequent and long-lasting your neighbour’s nuisance is
- Whether your neighbour’s conduct has any justification
- Whether your neighbour is causing the nuisance out of malice or spite
A court factors in “normal life” and still may not decide in your favour even if your neighbour’s use of their land is unreasonable and you have suffered a disadvantage as a result.
With so many things to consider, it can make it particularly difficult to assess whether you are the victim of an actionable nuisance – i.e. one which gives you a legal claim for a remedy against your neighbour. This is where the need for specialist advice from a property litigation solicitor comes in.
Dangerous elements on a neighbour’s land
The situation can be more clear-cut if your neighbour has introduced a ‘dangerous element’ onto their land, something which could easily do harm if it ‘escaped’. If your property suffers damage from this element escaping, your neighbour can be held responsible even if they have not been negligent in how they have kept the element.
For example, if your neighbour stores chemicals on their land, which leak onto your land and destroy your prize marrows, you will be able to hold them responsible for the damage without having to show that their storage of the chemicals was in any way sub-standard.
A public nuisance is an act or omission that obstructs, damages or inconveniences the rights of a community at large. Some examples include:
- Carrying out criminal / immoral activities
- Setting off fireworks
- Keeping a dangerous dog
Sometimes the same issue can amount to a private and a public nuisance, but you can only bring an action for public nuisance if you can show that you have suffered “particular” harm different from that suffered by the general public.
How can Truth Legal help?
We recognise that your case is not just a legal problem to be solved – it is a part of your life.
When we give advice, our solicitors look at your circumstances as a whole and consider all of your options – not just the ones which involve issuing court proceedings.
At Truth Legal, we pride ourselves on giving ethical and effective legal services – fighting on your behalf to enforce your rights.
We are based in Harrogate with presences in York, Manchester, and London.
How much will our service cost?
Truth Legal offers affordable fixed fees or hourly rates – allowing you a flexible and cost-effective service. You may also have Legal Expenses Insurance on your home insurance policy allowing some or all of your legal costs to the paid by your home insurance.
Contact Truth Legal today to explore your options and obtain clear guidance on your legal position.