More often than not, neighbors are great. Frequently, we rely on each other daily for help taking care of pets, watching our houses while we are away, or borrowing this or that. However, sometimes, disagreements arise and these relationships sour.
If you do find yourself amid a dispute with a neighbor that the two of you cannot amicably resolve amongst yourselves, please do not hesitate to contact one of our qualified attorneys at King Law. At King Law, our skilled civil litigation attorneys understand how stressful this situation is and will work tirelessly to get you the compensation that you deserve. We take a personalized approach to every case to ensure every client gets the best representation possible for the charges they face.
If your neighbor is interfering with your use and enjoyment of your land, you may be able to bring a nuisance claim against them in court. Of course, while everyone involved, parties and lawyers alike would like to reach an amicable middle ground without going to court, sometimes, going to court is the only option.
To bring a nuisance claim, the person bringing the lawsuit must prove that there has been unreasonable harm to the use and enjoyment of land.
First and foremost, to bring a nuisance claim, there must be some sort of harm that has occurred. Importantly, it is not enough that a simple, trivial harm has occurred. Rather, the harm must be substantial and the sort of harm that a reasonable person would view as significant. In other words, just because someone is hypersensitive to tiny harm does not mean that they have a valid nuisance claim that they can bring.
Use and Enjoyment of Land
An easy example of a nuisance claim is runoff from a neighboring plot of land that is making it difficult for a neighbor a use their land to garden because the water runoff is destroying their crops. However, the use and enjoyment element of a nuisance claim does not need to be as significant as not being able to use your land for gardening. A nuisance claim can be brought for something as minimal as the quiet use and enjoyment of one’s land being frustrated.
Lastly, the harm to the use and enjoyment of the land must be unreasonable. When evaluating whether a particular harm is unreasonable, courts consider several factors. This list of factors, in no particular order, includes utility, suitability, priority, cost avoidance, and distributional fairness. When it comes to utility, suitability, and priority, the court is looking to see whether the action that is causing the harm is itself also producing a benefit, whether the action is suitable to the broader environment, and who was there first. In terms of cost avoidance and distributional fairness, the court is seeking to determine whether one part is better situated to bear the burden of the court’s intervention and if neither is better situated, who is it fairer to assign the burden.
Since the Supreme Court of North Carolina first took up the issue in 1909 in Barger v. Barrington, North Carolina courts have treated “spite fences” as a private nuisance. That is, “a fence erected maliciously, and with no other purpose than to shut out the light and air from a neighbor’s window, is a nuisance.”
In coming to this conclusion, the Court began its reasoning by acknowledging that access to light and air is just as much a necessity to a person’s well-being as is access to water. Of course, oftentimes, there may be legitimate reasons why one neighbor may need to erect a fence that partially blocks, obscures, or limits another neighbor’s access to light or air. However, these reasons are not insusceptible to scrutiny, and the Court goes on to make clear that it will not allow one neighbor to continue to erect a fence that serves no other purpose than to
As previously discussed, to bring a nuisance claim, the harm to the use and enjoyment of one’s land must also be unreasonable. Spite fences are a prime example of the harm that lacks any of the utility that a court is looking to see when determining whether or not an action is a nuisance. So, if you have compelling evidence that your neighbor erected a fence for the sole purpose of harming your use and enjoyment of your land by trying to deprive it of light and air, you may have a nuisance claim in court.
King Law is Here to Help
Of course, as is the case with any legal action, things that may seem straightforward at first glance can become very complicated before you know it. The experienced civil litigation attorneys at King Law understand your stress and are dedicated to supporting you through this challenging ordeal. Our attorneys are proud to serve their clients in North Carolina and South Carolina and help them achieve favorable outcomes for their cases. Our award-winning team has a proven track record of success and is committed to protecting your rights and delivering the best possible results. To learn more about how our legal experts can help you, give us a call at (888) 748-KING (5464) or fill out our contact form today.