When is a noisy neighbour a private nuisance?
Have you ever sat down to enjoy the peace and quiet of your home, only to be disturbed by loud music, yelling or smoke from over the neighbouring fence? Private nuisance is the unlawful interference with a person’s use or enjoyment of their own land from a neighbour, but it does not need to be tangible or noisy to be a problem, private nuisance can take many shapes and forms.
What is private nuisance?
Private nuisance interferes with public health, safety, peace or convenience and can include many things such as:
- some activity or intrusion that causes a reasonable fear for an occupier’s safety such as overhanging tree branches, aerial spraying or shooting on an adjacent rifle range
- obstruction of rights of way
- obstruction of water supply
- interference with support to land or a wall
- blocking out a neighbour’s light, when there is an obligation to provide access to light
Requirements of a nuisance claim
When trying to decide whether your neighbour’s behaviour or actions are resulting in a legitimate private nuisance, try to remember that your complaint must be reasonable and not trivial. You should consider whether another an average person would consider the behaviour or action to be substantial or unreasonable, not just something trivial and annoying. A one-off event is generally less likely to amount to a nuisance.
For example, music coming from the home studio of a professional pianist is not likely to be a genuine nuisance, however, music played loudly and constantly from a backyard entertainment system could expect to be a private nuisance to the neighbours.
For a claim in nuisance to be successful and to be able to take legal action, the interference needs to be substantial and unreasonable.
What to do about someone who is a private nuisance
Property owners have a right to the enjoyment and use of their home and land.
If you are concerned about a neighbour being a nuisance, the first step should be to approach them to let them know that what they are doing or have done is a problem.
If this does not work and you are asked to leave their property, your next course of action could be to lodge a complaint to either your local council or local police about their behaviour or action.
If you have suffered any kind of loss because of the behaviour, you may be also able to bring an action in nuisance seeking remedies such as damages and injunctions against the continuance of the nuisance.
Further support for private nuisance claim
It can be frustrating to feel like you cannot peacefully enjoy your own home and privacy. If you are wondering whether you have a valid private nuisance claim, you may want to contact us.