When is a landlord liable for nuisance claims?

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What is nuisance?

When we talk about nuisance in land, we are referring to specific legal terms called private nuisance or statutory nuisance.

Generally for residential properties, nuisance comes up in court disputes between neighbours where one neighbour has created a situation through their actions or their failure to take appropriate steps to deal with neglect, something has encroached on the other neighbour's land and interfered with their enjoyment of it in some way.

The courts are expected in these situations to assess whether this behaviour was appropriate, balancing the competing rights of each party to use their land as they see fit.

There are three different types of interference that can be classed as nuisance if they are substantial enough to affect the property's use:

  • Permanent encroachment on the land i.e. branches or Japanese Knotweed growing over from neighbouring land
  • Direct injury to the land i.e. damage such as water ingress escaping from the neighbouring property
  • interference with the quiet enjoyment of the land in question i.e. smells, vibrations, noise, dust, etc.

In some cases, the local authority can also take action where the nuisance is considered Statutory. Typically for residential tenancies this will occur if the particular event is listed as a statutory nuisance under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

How does this apply to landlords?

Typically landlords are not liable for nuisance, particularly if their tenant is the root cause of the nuisance. However, in some cases they may be and this guidance is designed to give you an idea of when this may be the case.

What is the test for whether a private nuisance has occured?

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