Persons who own properties sharing common boundaries have mutual rights, duties, and liabilities. Landowners are expected to use their property in a reasonable manner without unduly interfering with the adjoining land owner’s rights. The general principle is that every person may make use of his or her own property in such a manner as not to injure others. A property owner can put his or her property to any lawful use, provided he or she does not, by such use, deprive the adjoining owner of any right of lawful enjoyment of the adjoining property. Another limitation is that the property owner’s use should not amount to a nuisance in law. Some particular circumstances of land owner’s use of his or her land are discussed below.
Even though a property owner is conducting a lawful business on his or her property, he or she will be subject to reasonable limitations. His or her rights with regard to the lawful business cannot be exercised in such a way as to invade and injure his or her neighbor’s property or business. In other words, the property must be used in such a manner so that it does not unreasonably interfere with the health or comfort of his neighbors, or with their right to the enjoyment of their property. The courts have uniformly held that a property owner will be guilty of nuisance if he or she makes an unreasonable or unlawful use of his or her property and thereby produces material injury or great annoyance to the neighbor. Additionally, the law will also hold the property owner responsible for the consequent damages.
Another particular instance affecting land owner’s right to use and enjoy property is that of trees and vegetation. Trees or shrubbery on adjoining land cannot be complained of regardless of their thickness or height, since the adjoining landowner is well within his or her rights in making such use of his or her land. This is a general common-law rule in the United States. However, landowners should not permit trees or hedges on their property to invade the rights of adjoining landowners. A property owner has no common-law duty to destroy the natural outgrowths of the soil. An adjoining land owner cannot complain of nuisance on the basis of mere maintenance of unpleasant or unsightly vegetation on adjoining property even though it may interfere with the adjoining owner’s enjoyment of his or her property. However, the recent trend of courts adopting the law is to impose a duty of reasonable care upon the possessor of land with regard to natural conditions of land.