- For Attorneys
In legal terminology, a nuisance is a substantial interference with the right to use and enjoy land, which may be intentional, negligent or ultrahazardous in origin, and must be a result of defendant's activity. Nuisances can include litter, noxious smells, noise, burning, misdirection of water onto other property, illegal gambling, unauthorized collections of rusting autos, indecent signs and pictures on businesses and many other activities.
If a nuisance interferes with another person's quiet or peaceful or pleasant use of his/her property, it may be the basis for a lawsuit for damages and/or an injunction ordering the person or entity causing the nuisance to stop or limit the activity (such as closing down an activity in the evening).
Abatement of a nuisance may involve elimination of a nuisance by removal, repair, rehabilitation or demolition. Public nuisance abatement is governed by local laws, which vary by jurisdiction. For example, some nuisances, such as accumulated trash, may be resolved by filing a complaint with the local health department. Local laws often provide for notice to the person responsible for the nuisance and civil penalites if the nuisance isn't abated within a defined time period. Common concerns that are subject to abatement are tall grass, noxious weeds, junk vehicles, and unconfined garbage on private property. Other areas define a public nuisance as any real property or vehicle where criminal activity occurs. The activity can include drug violations, gambling, sex offenses, weapon offenses, gang activity, noise offenses, and disturbing the peace. I suggest calling the local building department, council person, or city hall. Local ordinances typically require notice to the owner to claim the property before self-help measures may be used.
Adverse possession is a means by which someone may acquire title to the land of another through certain acts over a defined period of time. Such acts must continue uninterrupted for the time period defined by state laws, which vary by state. In general, the acts of possession must be overt, hostile, exclusive, uninterrupted, and under a claim of right, etc., so as to give the owner or others claiming entitlement to possession notice and an opportunity to counter the adverse possession. Payment of real property taxes and making improvements (such as paving or fencing) for the statutory period, which varies by state, are evidence of adverse possession but cannot be used by a person with no claim to title other than possession. Certain public property is not subject to adverse possession. Some states require that the possession be "under color of title," or that the person must believe that he has the right to possess it and has some form of document or is relying on some fact that while not actually conveying title, appears to do so. In addition, many states require concurrent the payment of property taxes for a specified period of time, and a few states also require that improvements be made upon the land. Eventually, the possessor is required to file for title with the county recorder. The actual owner then has a limited amount of time in which to challenge the newcomer's title. Essentially, the owner's only argument is to claim some sort of disability; such as age, mental instability, or imprisonment. The owner is not required to do much in order to stop the possessor from acquiring title; merely sending the possessor a note granting permission to be there will usually suffice. Various rules exist regarding the continuousness of the possession and the ability to "tack" various periods of possession together in order to satisfy the time of possession requirement.