Most people have a hard time comprehending the legal definition of the word "nuisance," and that is completely understandable. (It often confuses lots of lawyers and other real-estate professionals.)
Ask a lay person to define the term and that individual is most likely going to to think of someone that is "obnoxious" or "annoying," and any "objectionable" or "offensive" act committed by another would likely be encompassed by that definition.
In landlord-tenant law, the word is a lot more "nuanced."
In Ocean Neck Apts. Co., LLC v. Weissman occupants of a residential building were allegedly "neck deep" in toilet water as a result of the conduct of a rent-stabilized tenant who lived above them. Incredibly, even though there had been four floods over the course of a seven week period, and notwithstanding the tenant's refusal to cooperate with the landlord's efforts to address the problem, a Kings County Civil Court Housing Judge was not convinced that the tenant's conduct comprised a nuisance.
Luckily, on appeal, drier minds prevailed and the Appellate Term, 2nd and 11th Judicial Districts, reversed. Here's why the AT believed an eviction was warranted:
The testimony of landlord's witnesses at trial established that tenant's conduct was in violation of RSC § 2524.3 (b), in that tenant committed or permitted a nuisance in the housing accommodation; that the flooding interfered with the downstairs tenant's "interest in the use and enjoyment of land" ... and that tenant denied access to landlord's representatives after each incident of flooding to inspect in order to determine the source of the flooding. In these circumstances, a cause of action for nuisance was established ... Accordingly, the matter is remanded to the court below for a determination of the use and occupancy owed to landlord and for entry of a final judgment awarding landlord possession and use and occupancy.
Guess who's all wet now?
For a copy of the Appellate Term's decision, please use this link: Ocean Neck Apts. Co., LLC v. Weissman
For our other blog posts on this topic, please use this link: Nuisance