Understanding Georgia’s Nuisance Laws

If a barking dog, too many cars on your street, or water runoff from your neighbor’s yard are irking you, you may be wondering if there is anything you can legally do to remove or stop the offending behavior. These situations are regarded as nuisances and the law may protect you in some circumstances from exposure to conduct that rises to the level of a nuisance.

Nuisance can be a broad and subjective concept. Georgia law defines a nuisance as “anything that causes hurt, inconvenience, or damage to another.” An action need not be illegal to be considered a nuisance. At the same time, just because an action is annoying does not mean it rises to the level of a nuisance that is subject to a legal remedy.

A claim for nuisance is rooted in the concept of property rights. A landowner is legally entitled to use and enjoy his property without interference from another party. A nuisance claim presumes that the claimant had a property interest in the land that is being encroached upon. Such encroachment need not be physical; it can result from engaging in behavior that causes offense, uneasiness, fear or potential loss in property value to the owner.

In general, nuisances such as noise, odor or congestion create private nuisance claims. In contrast, a public nuisance claim impacts an entire population of people and constitutes a transgression of a common right. For example, a contaminated drinking supply might be handled as a public nuisance claim. Public nuisance claims are generally brought by public officials. In a private nuisance claim, the plaintiff seeks an injunction to cease activity that is considered a nuisance. In Georgia, the claimant may recover damages including loss of value in the property, personal damages and attorney’s fees. Punitive damages may be relevant if the offending party acted in bad faith.

A nuisance claim must satisfy the following elements: (i) an act that constitutes more than negligent behavior; (ii) the conduct continues for a certain length of time; (iii) the behavior is of a nature that a reasonable person would have trouble condoning such behavior; and (iv) the conduct causes harm that is not outweighed by any benefits it offers.

The experienced team of attorneys at the Law Offices of Mark Weinstein, P.C. can help you litigate your real estate claims. Contact Mark Weinstein and his colleagues at (770) 888-7707 or visit them at https://www.markweinsteinlaw.com to find out how they can advise you.