Maybe you moved from the big city to the mountains or countryside and bought a piece of land to enjoy the peace and quiet of the rural setting. However, maybe a dog kennel, cryptocurrency mining factory, or a gun range moves in next door to your property. Now, your peace and quiet enjoyment of your property is replaced with loud noises of dogs barking or gunshots, odors, bright lights, or other interferences. What can you do? Or, maybe on the other hand, you moved to the countryside to open a business that is more suitable in a remote area than a compact town, but your business happens to admit loud noises or odors. If you are the neighbor being affected by these noises, and odors, among others, or if you are the one making these interferences, you may be wondering if this is allowed and what the remedies might be for this.
When you buy property, you also get what is called a “bundle of rights” that comes with your land.
This bundle includes the right to transfer or sell your property, benefit from your land, or have the freedom to enjoy and use your property in any way that you would like. However, there are limitations to those rights and essentially what you can do with your property. When one uses their property in a way that unreasonably interferes with their neighbor’s enjoyment and use of their land this is what is called a private nuisance. The idea is that you can use your property as long as it does not unreasonably injure someone else’s land. So, when can you bring an action for nuisance against your neighbor?
Based on North Carolina law, to have a case for private nuisance a plaintiff must show that “(1) the defendant’s maintenance and operation of the enterprise is unreasonable and (2) that because of the unreasonable conduct, there has been substantial injury and loss of value to the plaintiff’s property.” This, however, does not mean a neighbor’s dog that barks once in a while or the odors from a neighbor’s twice-a-year fire, although an annoyance, is necessarily a nuisance. It is reasonable for a dog to bark sometimes. However, if that neighbor has maybe 10 dogs that are barking excessively during the night, which disrupts your or your family’s sleep and enjoyment of the quiet nature of your property, that is when the barking can be unreasonable and potentially a nuisance claim. For nuisance, in addition to being unreasonable, you must have suffered a substantial injury because of your neighbor’s conduct. Under North Carolina law, an injury can be a substantial annoyance, material physical discomfort, or injury to your health or your property. Thus, in essence, a property owner can operate a business that emits an odor or noise if it is not at an unreasonable level and does not cause a substantial injury to its neighbors. Remedies for nuisance claims can be in the form of damages, removal of the nuisance, or both.
If you think the quiet enjoyment of your property is being harmed by your neighbor’s conduct such as loud noises, bright lights, or odors, or on the other hand, your neighbor is taking issue with how you are using your property, King Law can help. Give us a call at (888) 748-KING (5464), and we would be glad to discuss this issue and any potential legal remedies with you.