What is a Nuisance?

A nuisance is what occurs when someone interferes with your right to enjoy your property to an unreasonable or excessive degree, also known as “quiet enjoyment.” When one engages in activity that interferes with another’s quiet enjoyment, that activity can be considered an illegal nuisance.

Eviction for Nuisance that Constitutes Illegal Activity

Owners of rental property may have tenants who commit illegal acts on the property or use it to further illegal activities. Often rental property owners fail to take action to evict such tenants for a variety of reasons including, but not limited to: neglect, lack of knowledge of the illegal activity, monetary gain from renting to the offending tenants, or fear of retribution from the offending tenants. This illegal activity represents a serious threat to the health, safety, and welfare of other residents in the rental property, the neighborhood in which the rental property is located, and the city as a whole.

When faced with nuisances, including nuisances created by illegal activity, a City may seek a mandatory injunction to force rental property owners to remove tenants who engage in illegal activity.

Examples of Nuisances:

Under California law, a nuisance is:

“Anything which is injurious to health, including, but not limited to, the illegal sale of controlled substances, or is indecent or offensive to the senses, or an obstruction to the free use of property, so as to interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property, or unlawfully obstructs the free passage or use, in the customary manner, of any navigable lake, or river, bay, stream, canal, or basin, or any public park, square, street, or highway…” (Cal. Civ. Code §3479)

Common types of nuisances recognized by local ordinances include:

– Use of controlled substances
– Activities relating to possession, possession for sale, or cultivation of controlled substances
– Illegal possession of firearms and ammunition
– Gang related crime
– Gambling
– Soliciting or solicitation for prostitution
– Threat of violence
– Excessive noise
– Dogs barking
– Music late at night
– Pollution

Private Nuisance versus Public Nuisance

There are two types of nuisance suits; a public nuisance suit, and a private nuisance suit. The distinction is important because it determines whether or not you have the right to sue, also known as standing.

Public Nuisance

A public nuisance is one that has the ability to affect the health, safety, welfare, or comfort of the general public. It is an unreasonable, unwarranted, or unlawful interference with a right common to the general public.

Private Nuisance

A private nuisance means that there has been a loss of the use or enjoyment of property without an actual physical invasion of that property (otherwise known as a trespass). It is an unreasonable, unwarranted, or unlawful interference with another person’s private use and enjoyment of property.

What Happens if I Think There is a Nuisance?

A lawsuit for nuisance involves a neighbor suing another to stop or limit some type of activity that the other party is engaged in. Whether the nuisance is private or public, in order to get an order from a court to stop the activity (otherwise known as an injunction), the interference with property must be substantial and continuous. In making its order, a court will balance the relative hardships to both parties in making its decision. New Paragraph