SELF-HELP NUISANCE ABATEMENT

WHAT IS SELF-HELP NUISANCE ABATEMENT?

Self-help abatement of nuisances is universally recognized common law. The common law for nuisance abatement has existed since at least the sixteenth century. This common law can be applied to any vacant property that creates a nuisance to neighbors. A nuisance property interferes with other peoples' right to the quiet enjoyment of their property. This can be a vacant property which:

WHO CAN SUE?
A self-help nuisance suit can be brought by:

WHO CAN BE SUED?
The law allows a suit against the:

WHAT DOES THE LAW ALLOW US TO DO?

HOW CAN THE NEIGHBORS(PLAINTIFFS) REMEDY THE NUISANCE?

WHAT ARE THE STEPS INVOLVED?

HOW ARE COMMUNITIES USING THIS ANCIENT LAW?

    Members of the Butcher's Hill Community established that they have the right to board the property themselves and to recover what it cost them from the owner of the property. The problem which this community faced is common in many Baltimore neighborhoods. A vacant and abandoned house had become a base of operations for drug users and drug dealers. It acted as a magnet for criminal activity, drawing a steady stream of drug dealers and users to the block from a wide radius.

    The Butcher's Hill residents, after notifying the owner of the vacant drug house that community residents would board the property if he did not, boarded the property using construction techniques specifically developed to keep the building secure from the drug crowd. "We blocked the basement entrance, and boarded all the doors and windows with plywood anchored to a frame of 2 x 4's," explained a community resident. "We also cleaned the backyard and sealed the door to the backyard. This kept the property secure for months and helped get rid of most of the drug dealing from the corners."

    The community residents then took the owner to court to recover their costs in labor and materials, $340.15. The District Court awarded these costs to the community residents who had boarded the property. They now plan to use this tool to deal with other vacant drug houses in their neighborhood. "We know now that we don't have to sit by and plead with someone else to keep the property secure," said one community resident. "We can do it ourselves, and we plan to do so."

    As of the end of 1995, the Law Center represented communities in 119 self-help nuisance abatement cases.

Information Courtesy of Community Law Center, Inc.- 2500 Maryland Avenue
Baltimore, Maryland 21218 - 410/ 366 - 0922 | fax 366 - 7763

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