What is a Private Nuisance and How Can it Impact Condo Living?

Owning your own home comes with many perks. Having your own space allows you to partake in activities that you desire and to use your property as you wish. However, the way in which you are allowed to enjoy your property isn’t without limitation. The way in which you use your property may not interfere with the legal right of someone else to use and enjoy their property. When it does, this is considered a private nuisance. 

What is a Private Nuisance?

A private nuisance is the use of one’s property in a way that interferes with the legal right of another to use and enjoy their property. Under Rhode Island state law, a private nuisance occurs when someone unreasonably uses their property in a manner that materially interferes with their neighbor’s use of his property or his physical comfort. Put simply, a nuisance is an action that damages another’s use and enjoyment of their property. The action itself may be perfectly legal. 

In order to determine whether something classifies as a nuisance, it must be asked whether or not the action in question was reasonable. This is a question of fact that must be proven by the side bringing the complaint. Often the answer to a private nuisance is equitable relief, which is essentially an order that prohibits the person from engaging in the activity that was found offensive. 

Community Living

Private nuisances are often a big concern when it comes to community living, such as living in a condominium. When neighbors share common property and live so close to one another, loud noises and pungent odors can prove to be a nuisance. If a condo unit owner is engaging in a noise or odor that interferes with his or her condo unit neighbor’s ability to enjoy his or her unit, and he or she brings an action for nuisance, the sound or smell may be ordered to cease. 

Condo Association Rules Reign Supreme

Condo unit owners are bound by the rules and regulations of the condo association. These rules generally include a clause about nuisances; unit owners may not engage in activities that deprive other unit members of their own enjoyment of their property. It is therefore the responsibility of the board to determine (on behalf of the association) whether or not the behavior is enough to constitute a nuisance. Under the Rhode Island Condominium Act, the person accused of engaging in disturbing behavior must be provided notice and opportunity for a hearing before receiving any fines. 

What one board may consider being a nuisance per their association’s rules, may not be the same for another board. That’s why it’s in the best interest of the board to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced Rhode Island condominium attorney to determine what to do next and to avoid unnecessary litigation. 

PALUMBO LAW Helps Those in Rhode Island with Condominium Law Issues

At PALUMBO LAW, our experienced Rhode Island Condominium Law attorneys understand Rhode Island condo law and will work strategically to help our clients to get what they deserve. If you believe that a condo unit owner has committed a nuisance, we can help. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, call us today!