Garbage, Smoking And Neighbors
Garbage, Smoking And Neighbors
Howard Gould (Neighbor Law Expert, Finestone & Richter) gives expert video advice on: Is there anything I can do about the garbage and weeds in my neighbor's yard? and more...
Is there anything I can do about the garbage and weeds in my neighbor's yard?
In general, unless there is some local ordinance that controls garbage and weed issues in your neighbor's yard, you are probably not going to be able to do anything unless it has risen to the point where the garbage and weeds in your neighbor's yard might actually be considered a nuisance. A nuisance doesn't apply to mere aesthetics. The fact that you don't like the way it looks, that you don't like the way they keep their yard up in terms of garbage and weeds, is not going to rise to the level of nuisance. If your neighbor paints his house orange and you don't like the color, that's not really counted as a nuisance. On the other hand, if garbage from your neighbor's yard is piling up and creating odors that you can smell on your property, you may have a nuisance claim. If there is garbage creating a health hazard, the health department may be able to step in and do something to deal with that issue or you may have rights you can enforce yourself because it is creating a dangerous living condition, not just for that owner but for you too.
Is there anything I can do if I am bothered by my neighbor's heavy smoking?
Unless there's some local anti-smoking ordinance, it may be difficult to do much about smoking. For a very long time, smoking has been a very natural normal activity. It's sort of like the issue of the baby crying next door, its part of life. In certain jurisdictions, attitudes are changing about that but they really haven't changed to the point where a person can't smoke a cigarette at their own house and you're not likely to find that there's any statute that gives you much relief. Whether somebody could use the law of nuisance in those circumstances is a question that I've never seen addressed and it maybe well be an interesting question. We have changed our attitudes about smoking. Certainly a party cannot allow dangerous materials to migrate from their property to another's. If it was some sort of chemical that was toxic that was coming from a neighbour's house to your house - certainly you could have that regulated as a nuisance and go to court to stop it and whether we've reached the point where second-hand smoke from a cigarette passing from one residence to another has reached that level may at some point be an interesting question. Obviously, it's much more likely that you could succeed with that claim and it may actually succeed if you're to be talking not about two houses next to each other but condominiums or apartments where the smoke is actually migrating in such a fashion that it constitutes a risk of harm to the neighbour. And I think that that's a theory that we may see in the not-to-distant future in some of our court cases because we now have a lot of scientific evidence regarding the harmful effects of second-hand smoke.