Does your neighbor like to work on vehicles at all hours of the day and night? Does your neighbor play drums until 3 a.m.? Does your neighbor use seemingly, unnaturally bright spot lights for security that stream into your windows all night? Do you find yourself wondering what that foul odor is that seems to be coming from your neighbor's property?
Perhaps you have talked to your neighbors about the noise, the smells and the lights, but to no avail. Your pleas may fall on deaf ears, and you may believe that this is how your life will be. Fortunately, that may not be the case.
You have the right to enjoy and use your property. If you neighbor interferes with that right, you may be the victim of a private nuisance. All of those annoying activities listed above may be how your neighbor enjoys or uses his or her property, but when it makes it impossible for you to do the same, it may cross the line. In fact, sometimes it literally crosses the line between your properties.
The elements you must prove in order to prevail in a claim against your neighbor include the following:
- Obviously, you need to either own the property you live on or have a legal right to be there (if you are renting, for instance).
- The other party's actions recklessly, negligently or intentionally interfere with your right to enjoy your property.
- The nuisance causes unreasonable or substantial interference with your ability to enjoy your property.
A Georgia civil court will determine whether a private nuisance exists by weighing the burden of stopping the nuisance against the harm done to you. Moreover, the court looks at how useful the act that led to the claim is. Many people believe that as long as they don't encroach on your property that they can do whatever they want, but physical interaction is not an element of private nuisance.
Taking your neighbor to court may not be the way you wanted to resolve the issue, but it may provide the only relief you get. It may not improve your relationship with your neighbor, but there may come a time when that relationship is already too far gone. If you decide to pursue relief through the courts, it may be in your best interest to make use of the legal resources at your disposal.