What is a nuisance?
A Statutory nuisance is the legal definition of an unreasonable interference with the enjoyment of your property. To make the nuisance unreasonable, it must continue frequently for a period of time whereby the nuisance can no longer be tolerated.
The nuisance is more than an occasional annoyance and is something that is making living in your property difficult and unpleasant.
The most common types of nuisances are:
- noise (e.g. neighbours, alarms, animals, commerical business etc.)
- odours or smells (e.g. agricultural smells and waste)
- smoke (e.g. bonfires, cigarettes etc.)
- light (e.g. artificial light such as stadium and street lights)
What can be done?
If the noise you are experiencing is coming from a neighbour (e.g. loud music, bin waste build up etc.) you could try to resolve the issue by contacting them first. By explaining the situtation to your neighbour you could resolve the noise nuisance immediately, as it well may be that your neighbour is unaware of the disruption they're causing.
If you don't feel comfortable contacting your neighbour face to face, why not write them a letter using our template guide.
Should the nuisance persist, follow the appropriate link above to make an online complaint.
Taking your own legal action
There are times when, despite the best efforts of our officers we cannot obtain the evidence necessary to take action in respect of a noise nuisance; this can be due to the unpredictable or irregular nature of the noise. In such circumstances you may wish to consider taking your own legal action under Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Please be aware that this can be an expensive process and you are encouraged to seek legal advice.
Briefly, the procedure is as follows:
- Keep a written record of the dates, times and nature of the noise and make the notes at the time the noise occurs. It is helpful if some indication of the effect of the noise can be included, for example, "so loud I couldn't hear my own TV".
- Give notice to the person responsible for the noise that you intend to make a complaint to the Magistrates' Court.
- Make the complaint to the Court.
- Give evidence at the court hearing.
What happens after you have reported the nuisance?
- We may ask you to complete a record sheet which logs all incidents of the nuisance over a period of time, usually three weeks. Whilst we do not divulge the name of the person making the complaint, please note it may be obvious to them who that is.
- If we think there is a problem then we could install noise monitoring equipment for noise cases. We need to establish whether a statutory nuisance is occurring and witness this to take action.
- The action we take will depend on the nature of the problem and could range from writing a warning letter to serving a legal abatement notice.
If someone is found guilty of failing to comply with an abatement notice they can be fined up to a maximum of £5,000 for domestic noise and up to £20,000 for commercial noise. If we serve an abatement notice because of excessively loud music, but the problem continues, we may also seize all the sound equipment that is causing the problem.
For complaints about car or intruder alarms, we will deal with the matter on the day the complaint is made, or, if the complaint is received during the late evening, as soon as possible the next day. For other noise complaints, we will initiate an investigation as soon as practicable but within a maximum of 5 working days.
Please note that we do not offer an out of hours service. Complaints will be investigated the following working day.