Oleanders Poisonous to Animals May Support a Nuisance Claim
Question: We have lived in Gilbert on a five-acre lot for more than 20 years, and we have always had goats and chickens in our backyard. A new neighbor has planted oleanders on his side of the property line between our homes. We do not have the money to build a block wall to protect our home. We have explained to our new neighbor that oleanders are poisonous, and that our goats and chickens could die. We offered to pay for the cost of removing the oleanders and for the cost of different plants. Our new neighbor rejected our offer. Is there anything else that we can do?
Answer: If the surrounding community is similar to your home with goats and chickens, your new neighbor may be liable for the tort of private nuisance. A private nuisance is an unreasonable interference with another person’s use or enjoyment of their property, and a court could order your new neighbor to replace the oleanders with different plants. If the surrounding community has no other homes with goats and chickens, and has a significant number of oleanders, however, there may not be a private nuisance because there may not be an unreasonable interference.
Note: These types of disputes with neighbors generally occur when new home subdivisions start being built in rural areas.