What is a Private Nuisance?

Real Estate Law

Does a legal claim always have to be based on some type of illegal action or activity?


In fact, some everyday ordinary things can form the basis of a legal complaint.

Really? Like what?

Like noise, congestion, odors, barking dogs, or even water.

If you own real property, there are a number of ordinary and legal yet annoying activities that may rise to the level of being actionable in law.

In today’s post we’ll take a look at some of Georgia’s laws governing nuisance claims.

And as part of that review, we’ll look at the difference between a “public” nuisance and a “private” one.

Nuisance Defined

Georgia’s definition of a nuisance is quite broad. The law states:

A nuisance is anything that causes hurt, inconvenience, or damage to another and the fact that the act done may otherwise be lawful shall not keep it from being a nuisance. anything that causes hurt, inconvenience, or damage to another. …

But broad does not mean unlimited. The statute goes on to clarify that:

The inconvenience complained of shall not be fanciful, or such as would affect only one of fastidious taste, but it shall be such as would affect an ordinary, reasonable man.

Private Nuisance vs. Public Nuisance

A nuisance can be either public or private.

A private nuisance is grounded in property rights and the idea that you should be able to enjoy your property without interference. The concept is related to trespass; but one major difference between a private nuisance and trespass is that a private nuisance does not require a physical invasion onto land.

A public nuisance, on the other hand, exists when there is substantial interference with a right that is common to the general public. For example, groundwater contamination would be a public nuisance.

What Must You Prove for a Private Nuisance Claim?

The starting point for a private nuisance claim is an interest in property. In order to bring a viable claim, you first need to have an interest in the property being affected by the nuisance. You don’t have to own the property, but you must have an interest in it. So, if you are either an owner or renter, you will have standing to bring a claim.

Next, you must establish that the activity interfering with your quiet enjoyment of the property is of such a nature that any reasonable person would find it objectionable. That means that the interference that makes up the nuisance (e.g., noise, odors, lights, water, etc.) must be substantial and unreasonable.

In brief, some of the necessary elements need to prove a private nuisance are:

  • it affects a private person (as opposed to a public interest/right)
  • it is of an ongoing nature and has been going on for some time
  • it would be objectionable to a reasonable man
  • it constitutes a substantial and unreasonable interference with property
  • the harm caused outweighs the benefits of the nuisance

In Georgia, if you can prove the existence of a private nuisance, you can recover money damages – including damages for personal injury caused by the nuisance. You can also seek injunctive relief from the court to abate a continuing nuisance.

If you believe you may have a situation that constitutes a private nuisance, you should not hesitate to consult  experienced counsel to find out what your options are.


Our Experience is Your Advantage.

At the Law Offices of Mark Weinstein, P.C., our clients benefit from our experience. We have extensive experience in real estate law. We have offices in Cumming, and we serve clients in Atlanta, Gainesville, Gwinnett County, Bartow County, Hall County, Henry County, Cherokee County, Clayton County, Cobb County, and other counties throughout Georgia. To find out what we can do for you, call us today at: 770-888-7707. Or you can e-mail us with inquiries at: lawofficesofmarkweinstein@gmail.com.

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