Under private property law, a person will be held liable for creating a nuisance whether the wrongdoing was created intentionally or unintentionally. As long as the act substantially interferes with the use and enjoyment of land by the plaintiff, it is enforceable. If it is found that a nuisance was created due to the defendant’s reckless behavior or lack of care, then it is said that the nuisance was caused negligently.
Property law gives a land owner the right to the full use, and enjoyment of his property, without any substantial interference from others, under reasonable circumstances.. If a defendant hosts an unreasonably loud party during the work week, which disturbs the defendants sleep, the defendant has acted negligently and created a nuisance. The plaintiff’s comforts were violated by excessively loud noise due to the lack of the defendant to use proper care to prevent this from happening.
The right to the use and enjoyment of land is a broad category that generally includes four different types of harm: physical harm to the plaintiff’s property, such as damage to the lawn or buildings on the property; physical harm to the person or persons who are occupying the property; mental disturbance or annoyance of the persons occupying the property; and interference that causes economic loss or depreciation of the property.
Even if a defendant acts reasonably, but still causes harm based on one of these four categories, the defendant is liable to pay damages to the plaintiff. Unlike strict liability, nuisances that arise from negligence are not due to the defendant’s exposure of the plaintiff to an unreasonably risky situation. Rather, the defendant has acted without due care to prevent a nuisance. For example, a defendant may not take the proper precautions to prevent smoke from escaping his residence and occupying the plaintiff’s property.
Defendants who create a nuisance that causes physical harm may be liable due to either negligence or strict liability; in some cases these concepts may overlap. A defendant who is keeping hazardous material on his or her property which then leaks onto the plaintiff’s property may be guilty based on either reason.
Depending on the circumstances, it may be strict liability because the defendant was housing hazardous/harmful material, or it can be considered negligence due to the fact that, the defendant did not take proper care to prevent it from disturbing the plaintiff. In the case of a nuisance that causes the plaintiff mental annoyance, a defendant is not likely to be found liable due to negligence.
The courts ruled that the telephone company created a nuisance due to their negligence in listing the incorrect telephone number in the directory.