What a nuisance!

It is fair to say that most people will not be too concerned about the recently reported claim being brought be owners of very expensive flats in London who happen to live near to the Tate Modern gallery. 

It has been reported that the residents of some flats are bringing a nuisance claim against the owners of the gallery due to the fact that a new viewing platform has recently been opened at the gallery which directly overlooks the flats. The residents are reported to have said that it is like living 'in a goldfish bowl'. They have brought legal proceedings on the basis that the 'viewing platform is unreasonably interfering with the claimants' enjoyment of their flats, so as to be a nuisance'.

Many people would not have too much sympathy for people living in multi-million pound flats, but it is a case which reminds us that the law of nuisance is alive and kicking.  

In law, a private nuisance may occur where someone does something on their own land which is lawful but that action interferes with their neighbour's ability to enjoy their own land. If nuisance affects the general public more widely this is known as a 'public nuisance'.  

Whilst most people will not have to worry about possible nuisance from viewing galleries, it is important to remember that much more commonly occurring situations might constitute a private nuisance. 

There are many examples but these could include:

  • Tree roots on land which cause damage to the neighbour's land
  • Water or flooding which runs on to neighbour's land
  • Oil leaking from a tank which contaminates neighbours soil
  • Noise nuisance

It is important therefore for you to consider what happens on your property to minimise the risk of a nuisance claim. A court will look at the entire set of facts when considering a nuisance case in an attempt to come to a solution based on reasonableness. Unsurprisingly therefore each nuisance case will turn on its own facts.  

However, a court would look at such issues as location of the properties, the time of day that a nuisance is alleged to be happening, how often the nuisance may take place or how long it lasts and whether the person against whom is being brought is acting maliciously. 

If a person loses a nuisance claim, damages will usually be payable based on the reduction in value of the neighbouring property as a result of the nuisance. Accordingly, this could be a very expensive problem.

If you would like to discuss this or any other litigation matter affecting your property contact us.