One common reason for buying a home instead of renting it is to have the freedom to do what you want with your property. You can decorate and improve it inside and out as you see fit in accordance with any neighborhood covenants and local ordinances. Some homeowners, however, have little consideration for their neighbors, and it shows in the way they leave neighborhood children vulnerable to the attractive nuisances on their property.
An attractive nuisance is any feature, typically man-made, that draws the attention of someone who does not expect the feature to cause harm. Most often, attractive nuisances are a danger to young children, but even teens and adults may suffer injury or even death because of a dangerous item on someone else’s property.
What’s the attraction?
An attractive nuisance may not look very attractive to you, but in the eyes of a child, it can be too enticing to resist. For example, your neighbor’s half-finished construction project, abandoned shed, broken-down car or lawn equipment is likely an eyesore to you and others on the block. A child may see these as a wonderland of adventure, and this can lead to serious injuries.
By law, the owner of the property could be liable for any injuries. While you may know better than to enter someone else’s property and jump into their unattended pool or climb on a construction scaffolding, a child may not. If your neighbors have erected signs of warning or no trespassing, they may think they have gone far enough to protect themselves from liability if someone gets hurt. However, not every child can read or comprehend the seriousness of a sign’s warning.
How much should my neighbor do?
Following an accident or injury related to an attractive nuisance, the court will look at many factors to determine whether the property owner is liable. One important factor is whether the owner took appropriate steps to mitigate any risk. This may include fencing off the hazard, securing it inside a building or attempting to remove it rather than simply neglecting it.
It is true that, to some, practically anything can entice them onto someone else’s property, placing them at risk of injury. However, you and your neighbors may know a certain property owner whose attractive nuisance continues to place your children at risk no matter how many reasonable attempts you make to convince the owner to deal with it. Perhaps if your neighbor understood the financial and legal complications an attractive nuisance can cause, he or she would be more willing to take the appropriate steps.