private nuisance law

Private nuisance laws were created to ensure a landowner's or tenant's right to quiet enjoyment of their land. A private nuisance lawsuit can be brought when there is a bothersome activity occurring on another person's land that interferes with your interest in the use or enjoyment of your land. A private nuisance can, but does not always and does not have to, involve physical trespass of one's property. A private nuisance can exist even if the other person is using their property lawfully.

Common types of private nuisances include, but are not limited to:

  • Unpleasant Odors such as hog confinements or landfills

  • Vibrations

  • Dust

  • Excessive Noise

  • Intrusive Light

  • Water Pollution from chemicals, animal feces, or industrial byproducts

  • Air Pollution such as smoke, gases or noxious fumes

  • Underground or overhead obstructions from fences, wires, neighbor's trees or tree roots

  • Interference with television signal reception

  • Unsightly views

  • Property contamination or crop destruction by improper use of herbicides, pesticides, and other harmful chemicals.

what are your legal rights?

To be a nuisance, the level of interference must be more than merely objectionable. For example, if your neighbor adds something to their house that you believe is not aesthetically pleasing, it may offend you, but it may not necessarily constitute a claim of private nuisance.

Some things to think about when considering a private nuisance lawsuit are:

  • Is the nuisance continuous and not a single or isolated incident?

  • Is the nuisance unreasonable?

  • Is the nuisance intentional? Did the defendant know that conduct would cause harm or have they acted with purpose of causing harm?

There are several types of remedies available if you can prove that another property owner has created a private nuisance. A court can issue an injunction requiring the property owner to cease or modify the use that's creating a nuisance. You can also recover money damages, most commonly for loss of enjoyment of your land or economic harm.

How we can help

Our firm has represented numerous clients in private nuisance actions, from destruction of vegetation by pesticide overspray to noise caused by nighttime truck operations at an adjacent warehouse. The above information is very basic information on the law of private nuisance. We have amassed a great deal of knowledge about all aspects of private nuisance law through our work on behalf of our clients in these cases. We welcome you to share in some of that knowledge by reviewing various blog posts that we have made on private nuisance law topics. Here are a few examples that you might find helpful:

Hey! Keep It Down Over There! — Nuisance Law Part I

Get That Light Out Of My Eyes — Nuisance Law Part II

What’s That Smell? — Nuisance Law Part III

Wind Turbines — Good For The Environment, Bad For Your Health?

Can Politics And Private Nuisance Law Coexist? Iowa Supreme Court Says Yes 

Your attorney is waiting.

We make every effort to provide a same-day response to all communications received during weekday business hours. Initial telephone calls are always free. If it looks like we can help, it'll be our pleasure to meet with you, learn more about your situation, and lend you a hand. We handle as many of our cases as possible on a contingent fee basis, meaning that there's no fee unless we make a monetary recovery for you.


Erbe Law Firm 
2501 Grand Avenue
Des Moines, Iowa 50312
(515) 281-1460

Erbe Law Firm has proudly served clients throughout Iowa since 2005 from our Des Moines law firm. We look forward to hearing from you to see whether we can do the same for you.

Harley Erbe.jpeg