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When Construction Work Becomes a Nuisance

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Construction work is inherently noisy and interfering.  Depending on the circumstances, individuals who are residing in close proximity to construction work may have a legal claim for such interferences.  State and local officials utilize the permitting system to regulate many aspects of construction work to reduce the chances of interference with another’s use and enjoyment of their property.  However, sometimes, there are unexpected results of construction work that can land parties in court.

Florida’s Definition of Nuisance

The common law claim for nuisance is recognized in Florida.  An activity is considered a nuisance if it “…annoys, injures, or endangers the comfort, health, repose or safety of the citizen, or which unlawfully interferes with or tends to obstruction, or in a way renders unsafe and unsecure other persons in life or in the use of their property.”  The definition of nuisance can be quite broad, which creates the opportunity for people to file claims based on their unique sensitivities.  In fact, nuisance is one such claim a party can file if they find that another’s construction work is preventing them from enjoying their property.  A plaintiff’s claim for nuisance based on construction work is likely unsuccessful if the construction company is compliant with all permitting, local and state law regulations.  This includes work being conducted only during working hours in residential areas.  However, should the construction company deviate from reasonable expectations, the other side may have a valid case.

Abatement of Nuisance  

When a party files a claim for nuisance, they are often seeking to end the nuisance-causing activity.  Therefore, the claimant must prove that the activity fits within the definition of “nuisance,” but they must also seek redress.  In Florida, the complete cause of action is titled “abatement of nuisance,” which is found under Section 60.05 of the Florida Statutes.  Abatement of nuisance is an injunction cause of action. Here, the plaintiff will ask that the court compel the construction work to end.  The end of the work is usually temporary to allow the parties to come to an agreement of sorts–if the work being conducted is legal.  On the other hand and in a more extraordinary action, an injunction can be permanent.  Given the extraordinary nature of this cause of action, courts are reluctant to apply it permanently.  Further, there is a heavy burden the plaintiff must meet before receiving this form of redress.

Nuisance as a Public Concern

Given the strict pleading process to make a valid claim for nuisance–especially as a result of an approved construction project–it is not a usual occurrence for the plaintiff to win.  However, for example, construction work that produces harmful toxins and other pollutants not anticipated can generate public interest, thus transforming a claim into one of public concern.  Where a claim is of public concern, the court naturally becomes more amenable to giving the plaintiff’s their day in court.

Let Us Help You Today

Nuisance claims stemming from construction work are a reality.  Contractors can be summoned to court and homeowners may require to file such claims to abatement nuisance.  Brendan Sweeney is a Fort Lauderdale construction attorney with experience litigating construction-related property cases.  If you have any questions and/or issues related to construction work and nuisance, contact us now for a consultation.

Resource:

courtlistener.com/opinion/3391188/prior-v-white/

https://www.sweeneylawpa.com/federal-mandates-requiring-strict-contractor-compliance/

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