Nuisance neighbours - noise, smoke, odour etc

The Environmental Protection team at West Lindsey District Council is responsible for investigating all complaints of statutory nuisance under the legislation of The Environmental Protection Act 1990. The team can recommend and enforce standards, provide advice and guidance on a wide range of statutory nuisance issues within the district. Statutory nuisance can be investigated if being caused by a domestic or commercial premises with the following exceptions.

As part of everyday living we all have to expect some problems from the people living around us.  For example, everyone is capable of making noise when they go about their daily business, people can be affected by different types of noise in various ways. What may cause distress and irritation to one person may not bother someone else.

The behaviours of neighbours can be annoying but the Council can only take action where the activity is found to cause a statutory nuisance.  This is where the nuisance is either frequent enough, severe enough or of significant duration so as to cause a material interference at somebody’s property.

We can only act where the problem comes from a premises and is either prejudicial to health or a nuisance.

Please refer to the leaflet ‘Nuisance Neighbours’ for further information.

A statutory nuisance can arise from:

Note: The transportation and disposing/burning of Commercial Waste is dealt with by the Environment Agency.

Agricultural Noise and Odour

As a largely rural district, some noise and/or odour from Farming/Agriculture is to be expected, however, there are codes of practice set down for farmers to follow to minimise nuisance from their actions i.e. when spreading manure or use of bird scarers.

What to do in the first instance

If at all possible it is better to initially discuss the problem with your neighbour, as often, an investigation by the Local Authority may lead to a serious breakdown in neighbour relations.

If you feel you can approach your neighbour regarding a potential problem be calm and polite. In most cases, people are unaware of the problem they are causing.

If the problem persists, contact West Lindsey District Council’s Environmental Protection Team for advice.  Under Section 79(1) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 we must take “all reasonable steps” to investigate your complaint.

How do I complain about nuisance neighbours?

Please contact the Environmental Protection team by using the Neighbourhood and Environmental Reports online form to proceed with an investigation into your complaint, the following information will be required:

  • Your name, address and phone number/email address
  • The details of the complaint
  • The address of the neighbouring property causing the alleged nuisance

The team will not investigate anonymous complaints.

Where possible, to assist the investigation, please supply any photographs/videos/sound recordings of the nuisance you are experiencing (date/time stamped if possible).

Action by Environmental Protection team

After you have made a request for service to Environmental Protection, an officer assigned to your service request will explain the procedure to be followed and will respond by writing or telephone within four working days of receiving your complaint.

We have a standard letter procedure for the initial stages of dealing with nuisance complaints. You will be sent a letter, together with a nuisance record sheet on which you should record any further incidents.

A letter will also be sent to the person you are making the complaint about.  This will give the person an opportunity to consider their actions and may well result in the problem you have been experiencing reduced to an acceptable leave. Any details you provide us with will be kept confidential.

If situation improves, you may wish to take no further action. The case officer will keep your request open for 28 days, after which it will normally be closed unless you have contacted us in the meantime.

However if the situation deteriorates you should complete the nuisance record sheet, as these will be needed as evidence, should the case proceed onto a more formal stage. These should then be returned to the case officer as soon as possible to assess if there is a potential statutory nuisance.

If the case officer is suspect nuisance that amounts to a statutory nuisance then the case officer will need to witness the disturbance by way of monitoring visits or by installing noise monitoring equipment in your home to record.  At this stage a formal second letter is sent to the person being complaint of.

If having witnessed the problem and officers are satisfied that a statutory nuisance is occurring, an abatement notice will be served on the person responsible for the nuisance. Failure to comply with such a notice is an offence and will usually result in prosecution. At this point it may be necessary for your name and address to be disclosed.

If officers do not witness a statutory nuisance then you will be advised in writing on how to pursue your own legal action under Section 82 of the Environmental Protection

Complaints Made Outside Office Hours

Any enquiries/complaints made outside office hours will be responded to by the team within 4 working days.  If you are experiencing an extreme situation, please contact the emergency services by dialling 999.

Can I take my own action for nuisance without involving the council?

Yes, there are other ways to resolve statutory nuisance problems. 

You could try talking to them, or send a friendly letter; setting out what in particular is causing the problem or the time that it occurs or the length of time it goes on for. Most people can be reasonable, and very often a compromise can be reached that keeps everyone happy.

If this doesn’t work you could try a mediation service. You could also instruct a solicitor to write to your neighbour on your behalf.

Under Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, you can take your own action and go directly to the Magistrates’ Court (you may want to first consult a solicitor or your local Citizen Advice Bureau). You will still, however, need to provide the evidence of statutory nuisance for the Court to rule in your favour and issue an abatement notice. The nearest Magistrates’ Court is in Lincoln.

Environmental Protection

West Lindsey District Council
Guildhall, Marshall's Yard
Gainsborough
Lincolnshire
DN21 2NA