What Is the Legal Definition of Nuisance ?

A nuisance consists of the wrongful or unlawful maintenance of a property. Generally at common law, a nuisance is a wrong arising from an unreasonable or unlawful use of a house, premises, place, or property, to the discomfort, annoyance, inconvenience, or damage of another. The term nuisance has been divided into two categories, to wit: public and private nuisance. Private nuisance has been defined as an interference with the use or enjoyment of land. Public nuisance, on the other hand, at common law was always a crime and punishable as such (Blessington v. McCrory Stores Corp., 198 Misc 291, affd 279 App Div 807, affd 305 NY 140). Nuisance is distinguishable from negligence. It has been held that nuisance is the wrongful maintenance of something, whereas negligence relates to the manner of doing the thing. As stated in Blessington v. McCrory Stores Corp., 198 Misc 291, affd 279 App Div 807, affd 305 NY 140, nuisance is the wrongful or unlawful maintenance of the thing resulting in damage to others that gives the right of action irrespective of whether its operation was careful or careless; while negligence is the careless operation of the thing whereby others are damaged, irrespective of whether it is lawful or unlawful. Penal Law 240.45 defines a criminal nuisance as follows: "A person is guilty of criminal nuisance in the second degree when: "1. by conduct either unlawful in itself or unreasonable under all the circumstances, he knowingly or recklessly creates or maintains a condition which endangers the safety or health of a considerable number of persons; or "2. He knowingly conducts or maintains any premises, place or resort where persons gather for purposes of engaging in unlawful conduct."