Public Health Nuisance

What is a Public Health Nuisance?

A public health nuisance is different from a public nuisance or a code violation. It may be a public health nuisance if is: (1) can make people sick, (2) cause an infestation of insects or rodents, or (3) can pose a health threat/injury to others who may enter the building. 

Examples of a public health nuisance include:

  • Accumulation of refuse or debris
  • Human or animal feces
  • Rotting food waste
  • Evidence of rodent or insect infestation 
  • Accumulation of solid waste
  • Lack of water or sewage disposal
  • Limited or blocked egress to windows or doors
  • Number and type of live animals that might be injurious or dangerous to the health and safety of any individual or to the public in general

It is important to acknowledge that a "messy" or "cluttered"  building is not necessarily a public health nuisance. 

What is the role of Public Health? 

Minnesota Statute 145A defines a "public health nuisance"  as any activity or failure to act that adversely affects the public health. Minnesota Statute 145A gives the local board of health or its agents the authority to remove or abate the threat within a specified time. 

How does Public Health find out that a Public Health Nuisance exists? 

Public Health Nuisances may occur anyplace including: residential homes, rental properties, open spaces, commercial buildings, or businesses. Referrals can come from any one who suspects a public health nuisance exists. Referrals may be made by property owners, tenants, neighbors, family, concerned citizens or law enforcement. 

How will Public Health Investigate a Public Health Nuisance?

The Public Health Department is responsible for investigating referrals. All public health nuisance referrals will be investigated. The level of investigation will be determined by the Public Health Department and may include a variety of agencies, such as, Community Social Services, Law Enforcement, and/or the Humane Society. 

How will a Public Health Nuisance be abated?  

If the Public Health Department declared a public health nuisance, the owner is usually given 10-14 days to abate and have a re-inspection scheduled. If the owner declines to abate the public health nuisance, the Public Health Department has authority to abate and assess the cost as a lien against the property. 

How are referrals reported to the Public Health Department? 

To report a suspected public health nuisance to the Watonwan County Public Health department please contact the Community Health Services Administrator and Public Health Supervisor by calling (507) -375-3294.