Self-help nuisance abatement.
People who possess an interest in property, such as property owners and tenants, have a legal right to the “quiet enjoyment” of their land. The law defines a violation of someone else’s right to quiet enjoyment of their land as a nuisance.
Vacant properties can easily become nuisances to their neighbors. Some examples include abandoned lots or houses:
- Used for drug dealing, drug use, or as a “stash” house;
- With water leaks affecting neighboring properties;
- Infested by vermin or insects; or
- Presenting some other danger, hazard, or health threat to the surrounding neighbors.
Who may abate a nuisance? Any/all of the following:
- Neighboring private property owners.
- Neighboring tenants residing in private property.
- Neighboring churches.
- Neighboring businesses.
To remedy a nuisance, the law gives those neighbors who are negatively affected the right to enter onto the nuisance-creating property and clean up, or abate, the nuisance. [If there were no nuisance, of course, entering onto the property of another without permission would be a trespass.]
In order to use self-help to abate a neighborhood nuisance, the abater should:
- Put their concerns in writing by writing a letter giving notice to the owner of the nuisance property that they intend to abate.
- The letter should include the full nuisance property address, the abater’s proximity/relationship to the nuisance property, and a detailed description of the nuisance problem.
- The letter should include (1) the term “nuisance” and (2) any violations of city codes that apply to the nuisance property.
- The letter should state the time that the abater discovered the nuisance, the goals of the abater, and a timeline for response, giving the property owner a reasonable amount of time to abate the nuisance herself.
Abating the nuisance can include projects like removing trash or boarding up windows and doors of houses used for illegal activities.
Do you live in Baltimore and have a nuisance in your neighborhood that you would like to abate? Contact the attorneys at the Community Law Center for assistance!
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