Statutory Nuisance Investigation Procedure
Making a complaint
Many people do not realise that they may be causing a nuisance. So before you make a complaint we recommend that you try to talk to the person and politely tell them about the problem.
If you live in a Housing Association or rented property, it is worth discussing your problem with your landlord. Most Conditions of Tenancy include a requirement that tenants do not cause disturbance to neighbours; a Housing Association may be prepared to take action if serious disturbance is being caused.
If your neighbour continues to cause a disturbance,
What we will do to investigate your nuisance complaint
If we can investigate your complaint we will contact the person you have complained about, often via letter. This will inform them that a complaint has been made, and ask them to consider ways to prevent their actions from being a nuisance. Details of who has made the complaint are not disclosed.
Diary sheet for odour, noise, smoke and or light complaints
At the same time we will send out to you a diary sheet for you to fill in if the nuisance continues. You would need to fill these in for a period of 21 days to give us evidence of the alleged nuisance. Once the diary sheet has been completed and returned to us an officer will assess the diary sheet to determine the extent of the nuisance.
These diaries are very important and we may use them as evidence in court. Please be honest and accurate as magistrates do not look kindly on exaggerated or inaccurate evidence, and may throw the case out of court.
Site visits to assess the nuisance
Where necessary, an officer will also make a number of visits to assess whether or not the nuisance represents a statutory nuisance. Visits can be made at times when the nuisance is likely to occur including outside office hours. For noise complaints, noise recording equipment may be installed in your house. In most cases it will be necessary for an officer to witness the noise before formal action can be taken.
What we can do about the nuisance
If we are satisfied that a statutory nuisance exists an Abatement Notice will be served. However, we may take informal action to try to solve the problem first. If the notice is ignored, prosecution may follow with a fine of up to £5,000 for nuisance arising from domestic properties, or up to £20,000 where commercial or industrial premises are involved.
It may be difficult to solve the problem to everyone's satisfaction. However, we will keep you informed of our progress.
What happens if it is not a statutory nuisance?
If, for whatever reason, we cannot take action to stop a nuisance, or if you do not want to involve us, you can complain direct to the magistrate's court under section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Your diaries will be a valuable source of evidence when taking this action. For further information, please see statutory nuisance - taking your own private action.
We may also be able to put you in touch with a mediation service which can help settle problems between neighbours.