Commercial activities can be loud and smelly. They can involve the warehousing of materials and the use of hazardous substances. They are associated with increased traffic. Building codes, fire codes, and zoning laws exist to keep these nuisances under control. Sometimes, they do not. When neighbors complain, small business owners must remedy the situation or face legal action.
Nuisances Can Be Public or Private
A nuisance is any condition or activity that offends people or put them in danger. Private nuisances affect a single homeowner. Public nuisances affect groups of people, either because people regularly visit the area where the business is located or because the nuisances affect public property.
Crime Is a Nuisance
If a business owner uses his commercial property for illegal activity, or allows anyone else to do so, this constitutes a public nuisance because it can endanger others. Examples of this would be drug sales or use of a warehouse to store stolen property.
Junk and Debris Are Nuisances
Commercial property covered in trash is a nuisance. A building in desperate need of repair would also qualify. If a business owner keeps rusting, inoperable vehicles on the property or stores abandoned furniture there, most municipalities would consider this a nuisance. Lumber or construction equipment that's in such bad condition that it's no longer useful could also be a nuisance.
Health Hazards Are Nuisances
Hazards that risk the health of the public are nuisances in most municipalities. For example, stagnant water, animal manure, and septic waste can all pose a health risk to anyone who comes in contact with them. Any odors they produce would make the area unpleasant for anyone visiting.
Nuisances Can Earn Penalties and Fines
When a complaint is made against a business, a city or county official will inspect the commercial property to see if any laws are being broken. This might result in a warning to the property owner. If the owner doesn't address the problem, the government will levy a fine - and keep charging fines until the situation is fixed. Criminal activity is much more serious and can involve law enforcement.
A Commercial Real Estate Lawyer Can Help
The law surrounding nuisances on commercial property is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact a commercial real estate lawyer.