Neighbourhood nuisance

This information relates to domestic properties and farm land only. If your problem concerns a business, including pubs and clubs please see our commercial pollution pages.

Anti-social behaviour (ASB) is any aggressive, intimidating or destructive activity that damages or destroys another person's quality of life. If your concern involves this type of nuisance then please see our anti-social behaviour pages.

What is nuisance?

Statutory nuisance is a legal term meaning that the actions of someone else are substantially affecting the reasonable enjoyment of your property. This goes beyond someone causing a level of annoyance, but something that can be deemed to be caused by unreasonable behaviour or neglectful actions on a frequent basis.

Nuisance can be a form of anti-social behaviour, but often people do not realise that their actions will be negatively affecting others.

There are a number of types of nuisance. The most common types are:

  • Noise (equipment such as stereos, a barking dog or DIY work at inappropriate times)
  • Smoke and dust (bonfires, chimineas, construction work or DIY)
  • Light (a floodlight at a neighbouring property shining directly into your window etc.)
  • Odour (very unpleasant smells after a farmer has spread manure on a field – see agricultural smells or unpleasant smells coming from a nearby property)
  • Nuisance accumulations (a large pile of domestic waste in a neighbours garden or animal fouling that is not being cleaned up regularly in a neighbouring yard).

What you can do

Often people are not deliberately causing a nuisance and do not realise that they are causing a problem for others. We encourage people to approach neighbours initially to discuss problems with them if you feel safe to do so. It often creates ill feeling in communities if people approach the council directly without taking to their neighbours first.

If you wish you may also take formal action yourself at the Magistrate’s Court. We may also advise you to do this if after investigating your complaint, we have been unable to enough evidence to demonstrate that a statutory nuisance exists.

We have put together an information pack, including template letters and forms to be used in taking your own action against a neighbour in court. Please contact us if you would like a copy of this.

What we can do

The council has a duty to investigate complaints of alleged nuisance. If your problem is being caused by a domestic property, please report it to us.

For noise complaints and some smoke complaints you will be asked to complete a diary sheet initially so that we have the information we need to begin an investigation. For other types of nuisance we will usually visit you or the property that is said to be causing the problem to directly assess the situation.

For the council to be able to take formal action to deal with a nuisance, we will need to gather evidence to substantiate the complaint. If someone fails to deal with a nuisance once they have been formally instructed to do so by the council, they can face prosecution in court and a fine of up to £5000. In cases of noise nuisance the council also has the power to seize noise making equipment such as stereos.

All complaints that we receive are confidential and your details will not be disclosed to the person who has complained unless we have to take the case to court. Please be aware however that we will not investigate anonymous complaints.

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