What are essential elements of nuisance?

Expert Answers
jvx0 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In legal terms, a “nuisance” does not necessarily have to cause harm or damage (though such results can fall under that heading)—it can also be an action that simply creates an annoyance or an inconvenience. When someone’s actions prevent others from using property (public or private) in a way that they could reasonably expect, they can file a nuisance report and possibly seek damages.

A nuisance is not the same thing as trespassing. Someone can create a nuisance for others without ever touching someone else’s property.

A public nuisance is one which affects many people in the area. For example, loud noises or unpleasant odors coming from one house in a neighborhood is a nuisance for everyone else who lives around it.

A private nuisance is one which affects another person’s enjoyment of his or her own private property. Planting a tree in one yard that blocks the light in an adjacent yard would be considered a private nuisance.

The concept of nuisance can sometimes be a gray area. Not everything that is annoying should be considered a legal nuisance—Abhinava Krishna tells us that it has to be “substantial and material in the eyes of the law" (link below). In other words, you cannot file a nuisance report just because your neighbor’s dog barks once in a while, but if the dog barks constantly, you probably have a case.