Nuisance abatement is a legal procedure for correcting a situation that is considered a nuisance. Nuisances can take the form of health and safety threats in addition to circumstances that impact quality of life. Thus, issues like poor sanitation, abandoned property, havens for criminal activity, and loud music are all nuisances and can be subjected to nuisance abatement. A number of cities around the world have passed laws that provide a mechanism for this process, in the interests of serving their citizens.
For individual residents, nuisance abatement allows people to call law enforcement to request action on recurrent nuisances. Law enforcement officers can investigate the situation and provide a recommendation to move forward if it appears to be warranted. A form of nuisance abatement might involve fining a property owner for failing to maintain a property or for renting the property to tenants who engage in criminal activity.
The goal behind nuisance abatement is to provide law enforcement with tools for addressing problems decisively, rather than having to revisit the same problem over and over again. Properties that tend to attract criminal behavior or that contribute to declining property values because of their unkempt appearance are both examples of nuisances that law enforcement may respond to repeatedly. Correcting the nuisance removes the source of the nuisance so that it cannot continue.
One method is enacting strict zoning laws and codes, along with aggressive enforcers. In communities where overcrowded and noisy houses are a problem, for instance, limits could be placed on the number of unrelated people living in a home. This allows law enforcement to take action on notorious party houses or drug dens when it might not otherwise be able to. Likewise, strict codes about habitable conditions allow for addressing of structures that are unsafe or unsanitary.
Effective nuisance abatement requires community cooperation. Residents of an area must report nuisances and provide detailed information about them so that law enforcement can act. Likewise, law enforcement must be proactive about patrolling the community to identify nuisances that are not being addressed for the purpose of prompt intervention.
There has been some criticism of nuisance abatement laws. Some laws designed to address nuisances also have an impact on people in lower social classes who are entirely innocent of any criminal activity. Structuring such laws in a way that does not establish potentially discriminatory precedents is an important aspect of nuisance abatement.